am 14. Mai 2006
The Handmaid`s Tale von Margaret Artwood spielt innerhalb einer utopischen Vision eines christlich-fanatistischen-faschistischen Staates, der die Rechte der Frauen auf ein absolutes Minimum zurückgeschraubt hat. Das einstig so "liberale" und demokratische Land USA, welches nun Gilead geheißen wird, ist in das komplette Gegenteil umgekehrt worden.
Die Ich-Erzählerin des Buches erzählt ihre Geschichte vom Anfang ihrer "Einstellung" im Hause des im Roman nur als "Commander" bezeichneten Hausherren und seiner dominanten Frau Serena Joy, eine ältere Dame, die ihre Fruchtbarkeit schon seit langem verloren hat - welches in dem durch Strahlung und Giftmüll verseuchtem Land keine Seltenheit mehr ist.
Die Ich-Erzählerin, als eine der wenigen noch fruchtbaren Frauen, übernimmt dort die Funktion einer "Handmaid". Ihre Aufgabe besteht darin, wie auf der Rückseite des Buches schon recht treffend betitelt, zu "brüten". Die Befruchtung wird dank typisch christlicher Vorurteile noch physisch durchgeführt. Eine künstliche Befruchtung wäre schließlich unmoralisch, ganz im Gegensatz zu dem natürlich "notwendigem" Paarungsakt, wo jegliche Emotion jedoch wiederum verboten ist.
Die Geschichte stellt eine meiner Meinung nach sehr gelungene Darstellung eine der Staatsformen dar, die niemand gesunden Verstandes jemals miterleben möchte. Innerhalb christlicher Indoktrination und staatlicher Totalüberwachung entfalten die Protagonisten trotzdem jeder für sich seine eigene, interessante Persönlichkeit. Dass der "Commander" höchstwarscheinlich kein Unschuldslamm sein wird, ist zu erwarten. Auch die anderen Charaktere zeigen immer wieder, wie oberflächlich die als "vernünftig" bezeichneten Veränderungen des christlichen Regims auf die Bevölkerung (vor allem die herrschende, obere Schicht selbst) nur einwirkte.
Sprachliche gibt es für mich nichts zu bemängeln.
Margaret Atwood schafft es immer wieder, die Dinge so auszudrücken, wie man sie selbst sehr gut nachvollziehen kann.
- Meist sich selbst auch so vorgestellt hatte, es jedoch nie geschafft hätte, dies in dieser Form auf Papier zu bringen.
Ein durchweg zu empfehlendes Buch.
am 9. Dezember 2007
The Handmaid' s Tale by Margaret Atwood deals with a dystopia concerning the USA
The story is written in the I-perspective from the view of the main character named Offred. We will never know her real name. People in the 'state of gilead' got new names.
The plot of the story deals with experiences of Offred's past, daily life in the controlled state and the way she handles the situation.
The new state was created because low birth-rates, caused by environmental pollution. Furthermore there exists a strict hierarchy. Offred belongs to the group of handmaids. They live in the house of a commander and their only appointment is to bear children. Handmaids who can' t bear children are sent to the colonies just like everybody who breaks the law. The handmaids are forbidden to speak, to write, to read and to go out alone. So the only thing which is left is their thoughts. That is the reason why the book includes many narrative techniques like flash-backs, stream of consciousness, unstructured way of telling the story and limited point of view.
The author uses Offred to give us an idea of how the future could be like. The state of Gilead is an Christian an fundamentalism state. In somehow it reminds you of the Nazi-regime because of its strict law and ideologies which stand above human beings.
In my opinion Margaret Atwood did her job very good. She showed that our society is always fragile enough to create a fascistic system which suppresses people and kills the ones who fight against it.
It was clever to choose the main-character as an ordinary person because it makes it easier to identify.
Nevertheless I did not really enjoy to read the book. It was hard to understand the story because of the novel' s narrative techniques which made it hard to get through the novel. Moreover it was no fun to get to know how everything works in this state, it was a little bit depressing to me. I think the book is suitable for somebody who is not afraid of a difficult spelling style and wants to get a pessimistic or realistic view of our society.
am 16. Mai 2000
This is a scary book about the aftermath of an extreme right wing violent takeover of the USA. In the future, women are at first denied the access to their money, bank accounts and credit cards. Their resources are then turned over to and handled by their husbands and fathers. Then it gets worse. They are denied independence, education, and any sense of self worth. They are to be controlled.
Meanwhile, environmental problems have destroyed the fertility of much of the population. And, so the "new powers that be" have a solution. They take women that are believed to be fertile and assign them as handmaiden's to high ranking family's in the new order. Their value is solely for procreation.
The heroine and her family want out and try to escape by crossing the border to Canada. The attempt fails and she looses everything of importance including her child.. who is taken and given to another family.
The story unfolds with Offred, the heroine, being trained and then assigned to a high ranking family as the handmaiden. Here the new family traditions combine 20th century technology and old testiment biblical customs.
Her longing for her child and husband and her old life never abate, even when she finds a way to resist throught an undeground anti-government resistence.
While this is obviously fiction, it is easy to find current real life parallel. I'm not sure that the author was thinking of fundamentalist Muslins when she wrote this, but she could have been.
am 24. Juli 2000
When I first read Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" I couldn't put it down. I read so fast that I knew I most have missed some potent details so before the last few chapters I decided to turn back to the begining of the book and read slowly (one chapter a day) savoring each little haunting bit. This book is a fantastic view of a very possible future, and a very good reason to continue to buy books printed on paper and not digitally transferred.
People who are from the religious right might not like this book as it will force them to question their beliefs in regards to relationships between men and women.
am 15. Mai 2000
Years ago, when "The Handmaid's Tale" first hit the shelves, I was drawn to the painting on the cover. It depicts two women, dressed in long flowing red robes, wearing white headdresses, carrying baskets in front of an unnaturally tall curved brick wall. There is a patch of blue sky that can be seen over the top of the wall. You perceive the wall as a barrier, that the women are somehow cut off from the world.
Before I knew anything about the book, I assumed it was an historical novel, something from the Middle Ages.
I wasn't too far off.
Margaret Atwood conjures a future society, but many elements of her society can be seen in fundamentalist cultures right here, right now.
And unlike most science fiction, her story is not about the fruits of technology, but rather the sociological and personal implications of technology's impact.
Much has been said about the political sensibilities of the book, but I would like to praise its exposition. We are introduced to a new America (now called Gilead) by the first-person account of the narrator, Offred. Her birth name has been taken from her. Offred means "Of Fred" making her identity literally that of a possessed object. She weaves her thoughts about her present-day predicament with observations of her daily routine and a history of her personal life and the transition from the USA to Gilead. Her view of the world is necessarily limited by her lack of access to information, but after a while you realize that her detached description of her environment is also a survival mechanism. For our heroine to even articulate her position to herself puts her life in danger. As is true in all dystopias, it is frightening to wake up.
In another writer's hands, this futureworld could be a strident polemic. Ms. Atwood makes this book so engrossing by letting her narrator reveal herself and her world in her own time, by making the personal political.
Without giving too much away, this is a story about technology and control run amuck. The future is a world where technology, pollution and personal freedom have created new survival choices for society, and society has chosen badly.
Ms. Atwood says that her book points out what would happen if certain ways of thinking were taken to their logical extreme. As Offred's instructor says, "the Old World protected 'freedom to'. We protect 'freedom from'. Is her story relevant? With Americans guzzling gasoline in behemoth SUVs faster than Detroit can make them, and fundamentalists controlling large parts of our political and communication machinery, do you have to ask?
The Handmaid's Tale is an engrossing, chilling, and well-written story from beginning to end.
am 12. September 2003
Gleich der ebenso einfache wie rätselhafte erste Satz zieht den Leser in den Text hinein. Es stellt sich schnell heraus, daß wir in einer nicht allzu weit entfernten Zukunft sind, in der christliche Fundamentalisten eine totalitäre Ordnung errichtet haben. Durch eine Ich-Erzählerin erfahren wir sukzessive, wie diese Ordnung funktioniert und wie es dazu gekommen ist. Manchmal fragte ich mich, ob Atwood nicht zuviel Zeit damit verbringt, dem Leser die von ihr erfundene Gesellschaftsordnung vorzustellen, als l'art pour l'art sozusagen. An anderen Stellen sah ich in der ausgeprägten Frauenfeindlichkeit des dargestellten Systems vor allem die Verarbeitung hysterischer feministischer Vorstellungen. Und tatsächlich vermag ich jenseits 80erJahre-Diskussionen keinen Grund zu erkennen, warum Atwood ausgerechnet eine solche Gesellschaft portraitiert. Insofern besteht wie bei Orwell, an den man gelegentlich denken muß, eine gewisse Zeitgebundenheit. Doch insgesamt sind das nur Mäkeleien. Der Text ist nicht nur sprachlich auf hohem Niveau, sondern auch wirklich spannend. Dazu beweist Atwood eine außergewöhnliche Sensibilität für das Leben in einer totalitären Gesellschaft, für das Erdrückende, die kleinen Wagnisse, das Mißtrauen, die geheimen Hoffnungen usw., usw. Am Ende klärt sich selbst die bis dahin ziemlich unklare Erzählsituation auf überzeugende Weise. Ein intelligentes, unterhaltsames und dazu noch lehrreiches Buch.
In einer Zeit in der die Menschen in den westlichen Zivilisationen Freiheiten als selbstverständlich erachten, die teilweise für bestimmte Teile der Bevölkerungen erst in den letzten 100 bis 50 Jahren Gültigkeit bekommen haben, vergessen sie gerne, dass diese Freiheiten lange und hart erkämpft wurden und eben nicht selbstverständlich sind. Gerade in einer Zeit, in der der internationale Terrorismus Staaten dazu treibt, bürgerliche Freiheiten und Grundrechte einzuschränken – im Namen einer verbesserten Sicherheit für alle – darf man nicht aus dem Auge verlieren, wie viel Freiheit man wirklich bereit ist für die eigene Sicherheit aufzugeben und wo die Grundlagen der Gesellschaft selbst durch die Einschränkung in Gefahr gerät. Dieser Roman zeigt sehr deutlich, was geschehen kann, wenn zu viele Menschen in einem Gemeinwesen die eigene Entscheidung allzu lange hinaus zögern. Denn Gilead ist sicherlich ein hervorragendes Beispiel für einen Polizeistadt.
am 18. September 2000
In The Handmaid's Tale we are presented with a post feminist future which is both unthinkable and undeniable. Offred, the protagonist, gives a personal account of her experiences as a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a New Right Theocracy in the near future. She is seperated from her family, forced to endure rigorous re-education and transferred among couple's homes, where they hope she will provide them with a newborn baby. Atwood's novel is clearly a reaction to the 80's backlash against the women's movement, particularly the Fundamentalist Right's pro-family activists who claimed the women's movement was destroying American family values and denying the natural order of men and women's roles; man was the breadwinner, woman the homemaker. However, what makes this novel so influential is that it is not only a reaction to the Fundamentalist New Right, it is also a reaction to women's non-involvment in the feminist movement. Atwood offers Offred up as a willing victim who's passivity in the feminist movement is as much to blame for the perpetuation of these gender roles as the New Right's takeover. The use of names like "Offred, Ofglen and Ofwarren" is a comment on modern women's willingness to take their husband's last name when they enter in to marriage. The name Offred indicates that Offred is a possession of Fred, she is Of Fred. Overall, this novel explores feminism from every angle and illustrates the fate awaiting humankind if gender ideologies are not abolished. I think it's all the more poignant today considering one of the most influential feminists of our time, Gloria Steinem, became a hypocrite a few weeks ago when she married Christian Bale's father... Should we call her Ofbale?
am 9. Dezember 2007
The novel “The Handmaid's Tale” takes place in a new founded political system in America, during a time where infertility is a big issue.
Furthermore it tells the story of the handmaid Offred, the narrator and main character.
Offreds job in the new society is to bear children for the sterile “Commanders” and their wives. Therefore she and all the other handmaids have no rights, aren't allowed to read, write, or to communicate with others. They all have to wear red dresses, so there is no identity and they all are replaceable. Confronted with immaturity and boringness she spends her time with thinking of her past and about what might have happened to her family.
This dystopian novel shows clearly how a life under such a regime is like but warns us also at the same time how easy it is to loose democracy and a free life.
Atwood created a society where women are treated as subhumans and are reduced to her fertility. She conveys the reader the goals of the feminism and of course of the antifeminism during the 1960's and tries to show in how far such aims can be reached through a complete new hierachie, where women have (almost) no rights.
To my mind the novel is written very interesting and is easy to understand. However, the many different time levels and flashbacks make the novel to a special book, which is never boring. Besides this you don't want to stop reading until you know the end.
I would recommend this book to every person who likes novels about dystopias and of course to those, who like stories about the role of women in our or in other societies.
(Sabrina and Eva)
am 21. März 2005
I realise that this book has come in for a lot of praise, both by critics and by readers. For that reason I was quite excited to read it. However, I must admit that it left me cold.
First, Atwood's writing simply does not appeal to me. This is always going to be a subjective evaluation, but I don't see why I should join everyone else in saying it is tremendous if I do not feel this to be the case. In my view, her writing is far too simplistic and rarely evocative. I frequently had the feeling that she uses this simplicity as a tool through which she can sidestep the challenges of writing the detailed descriptive passages that, for me at least, make fiction writing so enjoyable.
She also sidesteps any number of issues in the story itself, never providing what I considered to be satisfactory explanations of matters essential to the plot. Not that I need everything to be neatly resolved at the end of a book, but I felt that Atwood's imagination just didn't have the stamina.
I would also say that this is definitely a women's book. This is not meant as a criticism - it deals intensively with women's issues, which is fine. However, at some point the novel's unwavering portrayal of men as, variously, weak, oppressive, cruel, manipulative, murderous, opportunistic, pathetic or plain stupid does become a little tiresome, and is once again far too simplistic. I have to wonder what the reaction would be if the sexes' roles were reversed in this story?
I think that the flattering comparisons this book curiously attracts to truly great works of fiction such as 1984 are misplaced. For me, both the flashback structure and the style reek of "writer's course", and there is a lot of obvious "button pressing" as the tale unfolds. Frankly, I found the entire experience fairly painful. Read in isolation, it is certainly not a "bad" book, but it simply cannot hold its own against genuine classics of a darker future, such as 1984 or Brave New World, which manifest real vision and challenge the reader with truly powerful writing.
Given the book's simplicity, I think it is probably best for non-native speakers or for school children. In fact, I could almost imagine it becoming a classic school text, but unfortunately I left school quite some time ago. This is a very easy read. Put another way, I think that the writing weak and I would have expected more, and I certainly could have lived without reading it.