The Handmaid’s tale. Margaret Atwood: The Author. born in Ottawa in 1939 brilliant student at the University of Toronto her poetry first drew her to public attention. The Edible Woman in 1969
Companions of the Order of Canada Gallery
Atwood's fiction is often symbolic. She has moved easily between satire and fantasy, and enlarged the boundaries of traditional realism.
“What inspired The Handmaid’s Tale?”
I’ve often been asked. General observation, I might have said. Poking my nose into books. Reading the newspapers. World history. One of my rules was that I couldn’t put anything into the novel that human beings hadn’t actually done.
I began the actual writing in West Berlin, in the spring of 1984. In five years the Wall would topple and the Soviet Union would disintegrate, but I had no way of knowing that. I visited East Berlin at the time, as well as Poland and Czechoslovakia. I’d followed events in Romania—where women were forced by the ruling regime to have babies—and also in China, where they were forced not to. I’d been to Iran, and traced the advent of the repression of women under the Ayatollahs.
Dystopias are a kind of thought experiment which isolates certain social trends and exaggerates them to make clear their most negative qualities. They are rarely intended as realistic predictions of a probable future, and it is pointless to criticize them on the grounds of implausibility. Atwood here examines some of the traditional attitudes that are embedded in the thinking of the religious right and which she finds particularly threatening.
Timeline & text structure
Narrative Issues and Palimpsests
The role & function of language