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The Handmaid's Tale

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Handmaid's TaleFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form

Literary, science fiction, dystopian

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 109,000 words

Notable lines

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.

— First line

We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability? It was in the air; and it was still in the air, an afterthought, as we tried to sleep, in the army cots that had been set up in rows, with spaces between so we could not talk.


He wanted me to play Scrabble with him, and kiss him as if I meant it.
This is one of the most bizarre things that's happened to me, ever.


We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom.


Blessed are the meek. She didn’t go on to say anything about inheriting the earth. 


But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.


Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.... In serving a greater good, he accepts the trade-off life in Gilead requires from those who do not have power. 


Moira had power now, she'd been set loose, she'd set herself loose. She was now a loose woman.


Don't let the bastards grind you down. I repeat this to myself but it conveys nothing. You might as well say, Don't let there be air; or Don't be. I suppose you could say that.


As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day. 


Are there any questions?

— First line

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