“The Handmaid’s Tale” as a Fireproof Book Against Censorship

Before becoming a TV series, pro-women’s rights dystopia “A handmaid’s tale” by Margaret Atwood had sold millions of copies. Edition with non-combustible materials will be auctioned in the name of freedom of expression. Wielding a flamethrower, Margaret Atwood aims a book, of her own authorship. The flame gushes from the barrel, the volume remains intact. With this video, publisher Random House advertises a limited edition, fireproof, of one of its most famous publications. The Handmaid’s Tale (original title: A handmaid’s tale) is a dystopia in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World tradition. By launching it in 1985, the Canadian writer created a world in which religious fanatics take control of the United States through a coup, founding a believing state, Gilead, in which women no longer have any rights. An environmental catastrophe prevents most women from having children. The few that are still fertile are captured, lose their names, are enslaved and kept as servants in the rich houses. There, the bosses repeatedly rape them until they become pregnant. When this occurs, they have to gestate the child, and then deliver it to the lady of the house. Abortions are punishable by death, as are secret love relationships, even homosexual ones. After being filmed in 1990 by Volker Schlöndorff, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter (in Brazil under the title The Decadence of a Species), in 2017 the story became an award-winning TV series (in Brazil: The Handmaid’s Tale), with Elisabeth Moss in the lead role. Banned letters, a secular story With its open ending, the core of the narrative has fascinated and shaken numerous readers, even those who would prefer a novel like this had never been written. For he puts religious fanatics in front of the mirror, showing how retrograde, alienated and dangerous is the worldview they propagate to a large audience. According to the American Library Association The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most frequently banned publications in US schools, on the grounds, for example, of “vulgar” and “overly sexualized” content, as well as “offending Christianity.” The Canadian author has repeatedly rejected such accusations, especially the latter. In an open letter to a school jurisdiction that intended to ban her book, she argued in 2006: “At no time is the regime identified as Christian. As for sexual explicitness, A handmaid’s tale is far less interested in sex than much of the Bible. .” The banishment and destruction of uncomfortable books is closely linked to human history: what is written is more enduring than what is told, so for centuries, some have seen texts not only as a source of knowledge, but also a threat – until today. As early as the 3rd century, the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered all Christian writings to be burned. But these too were active in incinerating activities: in the New Testament, on his missionary journey to Ephesus the apostle Paul converts the local magicians, who voluntarily throw their books into the fire. Book burnings around the world For despots, book burnings are an extremely effective way of showing the public how to deal with dissent. One of the most dramatic examples was the behavior of the National Socialists in Germany after the seizure of power by Adolf Hitler. In May and June 1933, in an “Action Against the Anti-German Spirit”, initiated by the Nazi student body, tens of thousands of works were destroyed, with the aim of exterminating German-Jewish intellectual life. The practice continued beyond the Second World War: in the 1950s and 1960s the target was popular paperbacks and “low-level literature”, going all the way to the youth magazine Bravo, which provided cautious sexual enlightenment to teenagers in prudish post-war Germany. war. In China, after the Communist Party took power, anti-communist books and critics of the regime ended up on the pyre. In the Chile of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, the same happened with the works of Gabriel García Marquez; in Islamic countries with Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses were eliminated as “sacrilegious”. In the USA, in 1966, Beatles records were publicly burned; and in 2000, Christian fanatics in several states set fire to volumes of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, calling them “witchcraft, satanic work and instructions for magic.” Right now, in the context of the war in Ukraine, books are burned by Russia as part of a campaign to annihilate Ukrainian identity. Signal Against Prohibition and Censorship Since its release in 1985, the novel has been sold millions of times, and the television series has multiplied its reach: all over the world, women’s rights activists wear the characteristic red robes and oversized white hats to demonstrate stand for the right to abortion and self-determination. The most recent protests have been directed at the US Supreme Court, which is about to overturn the law that guarantees illegal abortion. In an interview with American radio NPR, Margaret Atwood said she did not know if her The Handmaid’s Tale had ever been burned in public. Still, with the non-combustible copy, she and her publisher want to send out a signal in the fight against bans and censorship. The edition employs materials such as aluminum foil, steel and nickel son seams. It will be auctioned by Sotheby’s: the profit, estimated at more than 100 million dollars, will go to the association of writers/writers PEN America, in recognition of their commitment to freedom of expression. At PEN’s annual gala in New York, the evening’s host, writer and actress Faith Salie commented, “The fireproof book is built to withstand not only fire-breathing censors and flaming fanatics, but also flames. realities with which they want to incinerate our democracy..” In 2019, Margaret Atwood published with The Testaments a kind of sequel to her bestseller. For fans of the TV series, after the open end of the fourth season, the good news is that the fifth is in production and should be released in 2022. Author: Silke Wünsch, Augusto Valente

Questions, Criticism and Suggestions? Talk to us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.