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The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood
Publication date: 1985
Genre: Fiction Science Fiction 

About the Work

Cover of The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. Set in the near future, in a totalitarian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid’s Tale explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency. The novel’s title was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which is a series of connected stories (“The Merchant’s Tale”, “The Parson’s Tale”, etc.). [Wikipedia]

Challenges in Canada

2008 — In Toronto, a parent formally complained about the use of this dystopian novel in a Grade 12 English class at Lawrence Park Collegiate. The parent said that the novel’s “profane language,” anti-Christian overtones, “violence” and “sexual degradation” probably violated the district school policies that require students to show respect and tolerance to one another.

In 2009, a review panel of the Toronto District School Board recommended that schools keep the novel in the curriculum in Grades 11 and 12.

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