donderdag 8 januari 2004

Margaret Atwood - The handmaid's tale

I really loved this book by Margaret Atwood! The description of the Gileadian society is chilling. Gilead banishes love and lust, and in stead of that, introduces sex as purely functional for creating offspring.

In this fashion, the main character, to the reader simply known as Offred ('of Fred', Fred's property), is only used as a breeding apparatus. She has to couple with the Commander, whose wife is barren. Since Offred has conceived before, her ovaries are considered viable, and therefore the commander's wife can use her as a substitute. Offred's daughter from former times, when Gilead was still the USA, has been taken from her. Absolute and pure horror.

From the first page on, I was unable to put the book aside. It made me shiver. It is hard to imagine, even though I know it is true, that women's rights are being violated in this fashion. Positioning the story in the (former) USA increases the story's strength.

This was my fourth Atwood. With the exception of The edible woman, I loved her books. The edible woman is just outdated (for us Dutch girls, I am not sure about other, maybe less liberal societies...).

Atwood seems to be able to hit some kind of nerve deep within me: her stories make me sad, angry, but on the other hand there is always room for an optimistic end. In this book it is a lecture from a professor, some 150 years later. The professor speculates on what may have happened to Offred after the end of the main story.

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