The author’s powerful dystopian novel now stands more than the test of time.
Earlier this week, alongside her publisher, Penguin Random House, Margaret Atwood announced that she had created a unique, non-engravable version of her famous 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
The single edition is covered with a Cinefoil dust jacket and made up of aluminum foil pages, nickel wire binding and Kapton high temperature adhesive capable of withstanding up to 1,427 degrees Celsius. To prove the new power of her already powerful novel, Penguin Random House released a video of the author herself aiming a flamethrower at the book, which remained completely unscathed. The video is captioned, “Because powerful words can never be extinguished.”
“It is designed to protect this vital story and stand as a powerful symbol against censorship,” Penguin publisher Random House said. The fireproof edition will be auctioned by Sotheby’s New York.
Atwood’s story has remained part of the argument surrounding the banning of books in schools for decades, since its release in the mid-1980s. PEN America has been at the center of controversy as a non-profit organization that strives to protect freedom of expression through access to literature worldwide. Atwood Non-Flammable Handmaid’s Tale The edition will be sold by Sotheby’s by June 7, with all proceeds – estimated between $50 and $100,000 – going directly to PEN America.
Atwood’s decision to make his book unwritable comes in the wake of an increase in school bans across the United States of books that many consider influential and necessary. Over the past ten months, more than 1,500 books have been removed from the public school curriculum in some US school districts in a disturbing right-wing censorship move. Many books, such as The hate you give by Angie Thomas Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and The bluest eye by Toni Morrison displays a clearly targeted removal of LGBTQIA+ stories and black people.
Following last February’s event at a Tennessee pastor’s book burning event, Atwood’s novel is now a symbol of the power of literature and the authors’ refusal to be silenced. Many other writers have joined the fight to claim the right to their written word.
George M. Johnson, author of one of the ten most disputed books of the year Not all boys are bluetold CNN, “What’s at stake when we ban these books are real lives who need their stories read…so they too know they can exist and thrive in this world.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian United States, where women exist in the conditions of the men they belong to and without rights of their own. The women in the story are brought up to bear children, clean the house, and make food. Despite the sci-fi genre of his novel, the terrifying essence of Atwood’s plot is the dividing line between fiction and reality – many events are grounded in religious or political history. And we all know what they say about history and repetition.
Incombustible from Atwood Handmaid’s Tale is more than an impressive invention. It’s a statement about political and religious control – a design built to not only stand the test of time, but also the danger of fire.
Watch Margaret Atwood try to burn her book in the video below.