The Librarian Is In

Courtesy of the Davis Family Library


Literatures and cultures librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic department, the French department, the Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS Program), the Language Schools, Linguistics and the Spanish & Portuguese departments. These affiliations are reflected in her reading choices. “While I am a very slow reader, I’m a very critical reader,” she says.

Pages: 311

The What:

This work is a first-person, fictional account written by a nameless woman inhabiting a dystopian society in which certain low-ranking, fertile classes of women are treated strictly as reproductive vessels in service to a religious and socially high-ranking echelon of men. Set in the general region of the the Northeastern U.S., “The Handmaid’s Tale” highlights a nation divided in which the ability to birth healthy children is increasingly rare and is newly monitored by a menacing, governing power. This book, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, is considered one of the early works that inspired feminist thought in the late 20th century.

The Why:

When I saw that Elisabeth Moss would take on the lead role of “Offred” in the Hulu-based  adaptation of this book, I wanted to get to know the original work better. I was duly impressed by the actor’s interpretation of Peggy Olson in “Mad Men” and felt that she would certainly continue advancing the national discussion surrounding gender in this role, as she did with the former. Moreover, I want to do a comparative study of the book, the movie and the television series for “Feminist Collections” to track how the adaptations of this work have evolved over time.

Rating: 3/5 cardigans

This story is certainly one we need as a society and there is a reason some 30 years later following its publication we are re-visiting it anew. However, the writing is not great — yes, I said it. The narrator’s voice is dull, which, admittedly, mirrors the monotony of the character’s life, but lends very little pleasure to the reader. So, it is effective but difficult to move through.

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