The Handmaid’s Tale [Margaret Atwood]

Source: Brooklyn Public Library

Goodreads link.

Start Date: 1 July 2019

Finish Date: 10 July 2019

Notes:

  • This book is such a product of the 80s that the particular way in which the dystopia plays out now feels too unrealistic or incoherent, which detracted from my enjoyment of and attention to the book. It shouldn’t have, but it did anyway. I know that sexist dystopias are playing out and could still play out – just not this particular sexist dystopia.
  • I think the main thing I found unrealistic is that with women’s labour participation completely cut off; and with declining birthrates, the Gilead economy nevertheless manages to keep going enough to support a prolonged civil war. I mean, if I had been in charge of Canada, I would have invaded right away.
  • Emotionally, I think the bit that touched me the most was the feeling of despair towards the end of the book when Offred thinks that “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” is equivalent to “Don’t breathe in air.” And that is when she has had some level of new human connection with Nick and Ofglen. The poor thing.
  • I was mentioning to friends while in the middle of reading it that I should pick up 1984 again to see how that compares as a dystopia. Sometime soon, I hope.

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