Here is my letter to Margaret Atwood, in response to the Sunday Writing Prompt #227 from mindlovemiserysmenagerie
photo courtesy of edinburghfestivallist.co.uk
Dear Margaret Atwood
I’ve been a long term admirer of yours and I’d like to tell you why. I want to tune into your bandwidth – your capacity to respond to what’s going on through your writing.
During these uncertain times, I find in your writing a voice of reason, an anchor against being swept away by waves of gloom or panic. It’s tempting to slip into passive mode, I find, surrounded by the current political goings on. Even to accept that current politics are ‘normal’- which is very scary – because they’re not normal or life sustaining.
I have heard you being interviewed, and you sound calm and measured. And like many people, I watched the riveting tv adaptation of ‘The Hand Maiden’s Tale’. When I read the book, soon after its publication in 1985, I thought what a compelling story, set in a futuristic, sci-fi world – these things could never happen, could they ? More recently, the book has been described as a ‘dystopian classic’.
The Handmaid is named Offred, taken by force from her normal life as an American citizen, compelled to live in Gilead, a parallel America of the future. Handmaids are fertile young women, held as prisoners to have babies for the infertile upper class women. The state of Gilead is run by misogynistic men, maintaining their rule by fear. It is suggested that climate damage has caused the widespread infertility of women. Offred is kept alive by her inner life, she does not give up hope. And now – look how far we have moved towards this imagined world…
I am reminded of the power of our inner lives, singly and together not to give up hope. Your writing holds up a mirror to recognise ourselves as we are and what we’d like be. You do not lecture us, instead you offer a subtle commentary within a well told tale.