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Lost messages: The Handmaid’s Tale, novel and film

Bignell, J. ORCID: (1993) Lost messages: The Handmaid’s Tale, novel and film. British Journal of Canadian Studies, 8 (1). pp. 71-84. ISSN 1757-8078

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Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale thematises and problematises respect for gender difference, and the respect which separates one kind of writing from another (like fact from fiction), and does these things by exploring the relationship between language and identity. Atwood’s text is not distinctively Canadian in its setting or its subject, but its emphasis on unity and difference, language and identity, is particularly relevant to Canadian issues of multiculturalism and nationhood. In comparing the novel and the 1990 cinema version I show how and why the film fails to deal with these features of the literary text; its lost messages. I demonstrate that American popular narrative film is structured in a way which will necessarily render Atwood’s deconstruction of gender and writing impossible to re-present.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:71221
Uncontrolled Keywords:Margaret Atwood, Handmaid's Tale, Feminism, Adaptation, Harold Pinter, Film, Cinema, Canadian Literature, Multiculturalism
Publisher:Liverpool University Press


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