“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
“When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”
“Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough, when the time comes.”
“Knowing was a temptation. What you don’t know won’t tempt you.”
Margaret Atwood has said time and again that she doesn’t put anything into her books that has not actually happened at some time or some place in the real world. So when Atwood sat down to write The Handmaid’s Tale, what were some of the things she was thinking about?
Margaret had been reading a lot of dystopian novels, such as 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451, and wanted to try writing one herself – to see if she could do it. But unlike most of the others she’d read, Margaret chose to write a dystopian centered on a woman. According to SparkNotes, she wrote it “during a period of conservative revival in the West partly fueled by a strong, well-organized movement of religious conservatives who criticized what they perceived as the excesses of the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s. The growing power of this “religious right” heightened feminist fears that the gains women had made in previous decades would be reversed.”
For more information on specific events in history that inspired many of the situations and details in The Handmaid’s Tale, read this article at History Collection. The article covers “17 Moments in History that Inspired The Handmaid’s Tale”, including ideas of forced surrogacy, mandatory dress code, and where Margaret Atwood got the term “handmaiden”.
“It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.”
“We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy?”
“We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?”
“You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else. Even when there is no one.”
Over the next two weeks, Marcie and I will be reading The Handmaid’s Tale. The second two weeks of November we’ll be reading The Testaments. We hope you will join us or follow along! You can blog about it, comment on our posts, or tweet about it using #MARM.
Here’s our schedule:
Week One: November 1, 2019 – The Handmaid’s Tale (no spoilers)
Week Two: November 8, 2019 – The Handmaid’s Tale (spoilery)
Week Three: November 15, 2019 – The Testaments (no spoilers)
Week Four: November 22, 2019 – The Testaments (spoilery)
Week Five: November 29, 2019 – Handmaid’s and Testaments Together (spoilery)
Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale? Do you have a favourite book jacket? Favourite quote?