Day 38 - Completed Handmaid's Tale - A dystopia with great writing

Finally, I got the 1 hour I needed to finish Handmaid’s Tale. A detailed review is up on Goodreads: here.

After finishing this, I got to thinking about whether I should compare this with the other dystopias that I have read. The most influential of these was 1984 (Orwell). A surveillance state with some horrible restrictions on everything and horrible food for everyone who was not a proper Inner Government official. Gilead is a different world, of course. There are stricter observations, but almost no surveillance. Instead this is replaced by a complex heirarchial system among women that ends up in all of them keeping a wary eye on each other for possible signs of betrayal, laziness, non-adherance to the routine preset by the Wife of the household, etc. There are many quote worthy lines in this book, mostly platitudes but some really profound lines about life and controlling people and keeping people in check by not letting them think, etc.

Another thing that I didn’t talk about on the review on GR was that the writing in this book is good! Much much better than you would expect from a plot-oriented dystopia. The author has gone out of her way to include lines like these:

Yet it isn’t waiting, exactly. It’s more like a form of suspension. Without suspense. At last there is no time.

Or ones like:

Fatigue is here, in my body, in my legs and eyes. That is what gets you in the end. Faith is only a word, embroidered.

Or this last quote from the early few chapters in the book.

Tell rather than write, because I ahve nothing to write with and writing is in any case forbidden. But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else.

All in all, this book is a dystopia with some great writing! It’s the first book that I have read that fits that particular description. I will definitely not be reading another dystopia right on the back of this one because of some unpleasant experiences in the past when I read two Orwell dystopian novels almost back to back and had to stay away from Dystopia for almost a year before I could start reading Brave New World (Huxley) which is not even a proper dystopia, but it’s an undesirable world in any case.

Next up: Emma by Jane Austen. I was absolutely not joking when I said that I would like to know why Amy Dunne thought that reading Austen makes for better men that would be compatible with her. I aim to find out! Emma is a 470 page book! It’s one of the longer ones and it is definitely not a wise move to pick this up right now when there are so many things coming up (Western Groups, Bachelors Thesis Project Presentation, End Term Exams etc) but I am going to try to start reading anyway.

I say “try to start reading” because I tried to read Sense and Sensibility and I couldn’t. Reviews on SnS (Austen) said that Emma was the the book to read if you are just getting started with Austen! That sounded right to me, and I have the habit of trusting online reviewers. No apparent reason. They took time to write a reply to my comment or to write the review that they did on GR, there’s no conceivable reason for them to lie about it unless they are just some insginificant trolls or people who spam sites like GR for fun.

POST #38 is OVER