The Book Fairies Los Angeles
“Nolite te bastardes carborumdorum” The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood waits behind the red curtain at The Pikey in West Hollywood.
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Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state which replaces the United States of America in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. Because of toxic waste, birth control and pollution, women’s birth rates have become dangerously low. Handmaids, whose reproductive organs are found medically sound are assigned to elite couples who are unable to conceive. Offred is not her real name. Instead, Handmaids are stripped of their real name and assigned the name of the Commander, their male keeper. Offred serves the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. Every month, the three of them are required to copulate for the purposes of conceiving a healthy baby. Offred must lay across the lap of Serena Joy while the Commander attempts to impregnate her in wordless, impersonal sex. All women are restricted by law. The door to her room does not lock. The windows do not shatter. Reading is not permissible. And the Eyes, Gilead’s Secret Police force, are always looking for anything suspicious, and they could be anywhere or anyone. Although Offred and the other Handmaids can leave, they are only permitted to go on shopping trips with a shopping partner, who may not be trustworthy.
Much of Offred’s life before Gilead is shown in flashback where her memories help reconstruct the events leading up to the dissolution of the United States of America and the beginning of Gilead.
This captivating story has now been dramatized for the big screen, staring Natasha Richardson along with Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall, and a TV show starring Elizabeth Moss. It has also been adapted for radio and an Opera. Many consider The Handmaid’s Tale one of the most important works of dystopian fiction. The Handmaid’s Tale has received the Governor General’s Award, the Nebula Award and the Booker Prize. Published 1985.