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Summer’s review of The Handmaid's Tale
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Dec 03, 2007 07:27PM
Huh, that's a really interesting take on it.
It's definitely an amazing book, and very scary. Atwood really captures the dark side of fundamentalist beliefs about women.
Dec 04, 2007 08:17AM
Yeah, it's also kind of interesting, in relation to the book, how much a lot of Radcliffe grads are still very upset over the Harvard/Radcliffe merger - they still really value the Radcliffe women's culture, however subordinate to the Harvard male culture it may have been. Also, a while back I cataloged a handful of books donated to the library in the early 1900s by the Anti-Suffrage Chapter of the Radcliffe Civics Club. The fact that there was a group of intelligent women, receiving the equivalent of a classical Harvard education, who nevertheless were completely against being allowed to vote, is utterly mind-blowing.
Dec 05, 2007 08:51AM
Oh, and also the bit about Aunt Lydia being named after the Lydia Pinkham compound (secret ingredient: 40 proof alcohol!), when Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library has the papers of the Lydia Pinkham corporation and also a bunch of the promotional artwork.
Jun 07, 2008 08:04PM
Apparently, Atwood joked once that the book was inspired by the Harvard English Department. I'm reading a book called "Margaret Atwood's Fairytale Sexual Politics" which pulled her quote about that. I didn't know about that Harvard/Radcliffe history, so I thought it was pretty funny that you should have the same insight!
Jun 08, 2008 08:08AM
Wow, thanks! I'm going to have to look up that book!
I work for Radcliffe's one remaining library and had gotten a crash course in Harvard/Radcliffe history from the Radcliffe archivist shortly before rereading
The Handmaid's Tale
, so it was pretty fresh in my mind at the time.
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