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Margaret Atwood On The Enduring Resonance Of 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Handmaids attend the premiere of Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" in Hollywood.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images Hulu
Handmaids attend the premiere of Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" in Hollywood.

Does the state have a right to control a woman’s mind, her life and her body?

Those questions have been hotly debated as lawmakers consider new legislation on reproductive policy,, access to maternal health care on the federal and state levels.

Those conversations have been fueled by Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” widely considered to be a literary masterpiece.

We’ll never know how many people have seen their own experiences represented in the character of Offred, the live-in slave used to bear children in a totalitarian state.

But the story remains so relevant that the book has never gone out of print.

Offred’s story gave rise to a movie, an Emmy-winning series on Hulu, and continues to be a touchstone for major cultural conversations — whether it’s in the United States, or Atwood’s native Canada.

Atwood is still thinking about what could happen, in Offred’s world and ours.

Her new novel is set 15 years after “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It’s called “The Testaments.”

Here’s what she told The New York Times about how she revisited “The Handmaid’s Tale” and prepared to write a sequel.

…I also went back through my clippings file, because in those days, there was no internet, so we clipped things out of newspapers. And all of the things that are now such topics of conversation and such topics of agony, they were all being talked about then. The rise of white supremacy, that layer has never gone away, it’s always been there, but somebody opened a door. Religious cults subordinating women was being talked about. Baby stealing is an age-old human motif. Forcing women to have babies, it happens in the Trojan War, for heaven’s sake.

We hear from her about this sequel and are also joined by Bruce Miller, the creator of the television adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Produced by Avery J.C. Kleinman and Kathryn Fink.


Margaret Atwood, Author, “The Handmaid’s Tale” & “The Testaments,” @MargaretAtwood

Bruce Miller, Creator & executive producer, “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu; @BrooseMiller

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.