The Handmaid's Tale Connections and Further Reading
by Margaret Atwood

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(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Grace, Sherrill E., and Lorraine Weir, eds. Margaret Atwood: Language, Text, and System. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1983. Includes nine essays examining Atwood’s literary “system” and her development of style and subject matter up to the publication of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Greene, Gayle. Changing the Story: Feminist Fiction and the Tradition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. The author discusses Atwood and other contemporary women writers who employ narrative strategies that incorporate women’s perspectives and challenge traditional modes of storytelling. She sees The Handmaid’s Tale as less feminist in vision than Atwood’s previous novels.

Hammar, Stephanie Barbe. “The World As It Will Be? Female Satire and the Technology of Power in The Handmaid’s Tale.” Modern Language Studies 22, no. 2 (Spring, 1990): 39-49. The article discusses The Handmaid’s Tale as a work with satiric intent. Atwood warns of the abuses of technology, the domination of women by men, and the propensity to allow oneself to be trapped in a rigid role.

Kostash, Myrna, et al. Her Own Woman: Profiles of Ten Canadian Women. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1975. Contains a biographical essay by Valerie Miner, “Atwood in Metamorphosis: An Authentic Canadian Fairy Tale,” that examines the evolution and maturation of Atwood’s writing.

McCombs, Judith, ed. Critical Essays on Margaret Atwood. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1988. This valuable volume contains thirty-two reviews, articles, and essays on Atwood’s prose and poetry. The essays are arranged in chronological order. The volume contains a primary bibliography to 1986.

Mendez-Engle, Beatrice, ed. Margaret Atwood: Reflections and Reality. Edinburg, Tex.: Pan American University Press, 1987. This selection of critical essays on Atwood’s work includes an interview with Atwood. The essays trace Atwood’s development as a writer and include a discussion of her use of fables.

Rigney, Barbara Hill. Margaret Atwood. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1987. An analysis of Atwood as poet, novelist, and political commentator, all from a feminist perspective. Includes a useful bibliography.

Rosenberg, Jerome H. Margaret Atwood. Boston: Twayne, 1984. A concise literary biography of the Canadian novelist and poet that provides a useful introduction to her works.

Van Spanckeren, Kathryn, and Jan Garden Castro, eds. Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988. This useful collection contains essays on Atwood’s works that are of uniformly high quality. Several essays deal with The Handmaid’s Tale.

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)


Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.

Barbara Ehrenreich, "Feminism's Phantoms," in The New Republic, Vol. 194, No. 11, March 17, 1986, pp. 33-5.

Joyce Johnson, "Margaret Atwood's Brave New World," in Book World.

Robert Linkous, "Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale." in San Francisco Review of Books, Fall, 1986, p. 6

Amin Malak, "Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and the Dystopian Tradition," in Canadian Literature, Vol. 112, Spring, 1987, pp. 9-16.

Joyce Maynard, "Briefing for a Descent Into Hell," in Mademoiselle, March, 1986, p. 114.

Mary McCarthy, "Breeders, Wives and Unwomen," in The New York Times Book Review, February 9, 1986, p. 1.

Peter Prescott, "No Balm in Gilead," in Newsweek, Vol. CVH, No. 7, February 17, 1986, p. 70.

For Further Studv

Arnold E Davidson, "Future Tense: Making History in The Handmaid's Tale," in Margaret Atwood: Visions and Forms, edited by Kathryn van Spanckeren and Jan Garden Castro, Southern Illinois University Press, 1988, pp 113-21.

Examines how the imaginary country of Gilead is more of a reflection of a state of mind than a political reality. Also included in this book is an autobiographical forward by Margaret Atwood.

Barbara Ehrenreich, "Feminism's Phantoms" in The New Republic, Vol 194, No 11, March 17, 1986, pp. 33-5.

Interprets the novel as a warning about feminism's repressive tendencies.

Mark Evans,...

(The entire section is 1,736 words.)