#RRSciFiMonth 5 Unexpected Homages to Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

I read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale years ago and I think I can pretty much say that it was my first foray into dystopian literature. I never reviewed it but I found especially chilling its exploration of the control over women's bodies.

Never read this? Here's a quick summary via: It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

The Handmaid's Tale has naturally resonated with feminists. It has also become the subject of artists in all its forms. Here are some who pay homage to this dystopian tale:

1. Illustration and graphic arts

A Folio Society edition of the book features some striking illustrations. Check out more illustrations here.

2. Tattoos

There are a lot of tattoos on the Handmaid Tale theme. But one of the most popular phrases commonly inked is Nolite te bastardes carborundorum which means "Don't let the bastards grind you down," which is actually mock Latin. {Tattoo pictured above is by common_destruction on instagram}.

3.  Film

Warning - above video is Rated R
The Handmaid's Tale became a film (see also amazon.com} in 1990 featuring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall. The screenplay was written by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter.

However, despite a stellar cast and screenplay, reception of the film was horrible (only 3 stars on IMDB and 1 star on Rotten Tomatoes).

4. Ballet

In collaboration with Atwood herself, The Handmaid's Tale was made into a contemporary ballet and was performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 2013.

5. Fashion

Vogue did a fashion shoot inspired by the novel. More photos on the original seed.


  1. I had no idea there was a film (those ratings probably explain why!). I love the art and the tattoos. It's so amazing to see that a book that really struck a chord with me also made an impression on so many others!

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider silk

  2. I had no idea that this was turned into a ballet! That's so cool. I can see why this book didn't translate into film very well, as most of the action, so to speak, takes place in Offred's head.
    I love those illustrations and how the red pops in each picture.

  3. The fashion shoot is very bizarre! My favorite of all of these is the Folio Society edition -- just stunning. The Balbussos are brilliant.

  4. I've been wanting to get a tattoo for years of nolite te..., but been too chicken of the needle. I am living vicariously through this one.

    I had no idea Vogue did a fashion editorial based on it. How nice when they do something a little out of the way.

  5. I love Atwood so much, and The Handmaid's Tale led me to her - I could be confusing opera and ballet, but I thought there was an opera too? ...and yes, you're so right - that movie is terrible. :)


© guiltless readingMaira Gall