clearn.png
Thursday October 6th, 2022 12:17AM

Burn-proof edition of 'The Handmaid's Tale' up for auction

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Margaret Atwood has imagined apocalyptic disaster, Dystopian government and an author faking her own death. But until recently she had spared herself the nightmare of trying to burn one of her own books.

With a flamethrower, no less.

She failed, and that was the point.

On Monday night, timed for PEN America's annual gala, Atwood and Penguin Random House announced that a one-off, unburnable edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be auctioned through Sotheby’s New York. They launched the initiative with a brief video that shows Atwood attempting in vain to incinerate her classic novel about a totalitarian patriarchy, the Republic of Gilead. Proceeds will be donated to PEN, which advocates for free expression around the world.

“In the category of things you never expected, this is one of them,” she said in a telephone interview.

"To see her classic novel about the dangers of oppression reborn in this innovative, unburnable edition is a timely reminder of what’s at stake in the battle against censorship," Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, said in a statement.

The fireproof narrative is a joint project among PEN, Atwood, Penguin Random House and two companies based in Toronto, where Atwood is a longtime resident: the Rethink creative agency and The Gas Company Inc., a graphic arts and bookbinding specialty studio.

Rethink's Robbie Percy said that he and fellow creative director Caroline Friesen came up with the idea. Late last year, they had heard about a Texas legislator who listed hundreds of works for potential banning from school libraries: Percy and Friesen wondered if it were possible to make a book protected from the most harrowing censorship. They soon agreed on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which came out in the 1980s and has had renewed attention over the past few years, beginning with the political rise and unexpected presidency of Donald Trump and continuing with the current surge of book bannings.

“We thought an unburnable copy of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ could serve as a symbol,” he said.

Percy and Friesen spoke with Atwood’s publishers in Canada and the U.S. — both divisions of Penguin Random House — and got in touch with the author. They then contacted Gaslight, which has worked on numerous commissioned texts, including some for PEN.

The Gas Company’s principal owner, Doug Laxdal, told the AP that instead of paper, he and his colleagues used Cinefoil, a specially treated aluminum product. The 384-page text, which can be read like an ordinary novel, took more than two months to complete. The Gas Company needed days just to print out the manuscript; the Cinefoil sheets were so thin that some would fall through cracks in the printer and become damaged beyond repair. The manuscript was then sewed together by hand, using nickel copper wire.

“The only way you could destroy that book is with a shredder,” Laxdal says. “Otherwise, it will last for a very long time.”

Atwood told the AP that she was was immediately interested in the special edition, and in making the video. She was a teenager in the 1950s, when Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” was published, and holds vivid memories of the novel’s futuristic setting, in which books are reduced to ashes.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” has never been burned, as far as Atwood knows, but has often been subjected to bans or attempted bans. Atwood remembers a 2006 effort in one Texas high school district, when the superintendent called her book “sexually explicit and offensive to Christians,” that ended when students successfully fought back. In 2021, “The Handmaid's Tale” was pulled by schools in Texas and Kansas.

The novel has sold millions of copies and its impact is not just through words, but images, amplified by the award-winning Hulu adaptation starring Elisabeth Moss. Advocates worldwide for women's rights have dressed in the puritanical caped robes Atwood devised for her story. Most recently, some women in handmaid outfits marched to protest the Supreme Court's expected overturning this year of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“It's an unforgettable visual metaphor,” Atwood said. “That's why people in the middle ages put coats of arms on their armor, and had recognizable flags. That way you can visualize them and know who's standing for what.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Entertainment, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band to tour in US, Europe
The Boss is hitting the road again
9:03PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Florida suspends abortion clinic after hospitalizations
An abortion clinic serving women from all over the U.S. South had its license suspended this weekend under an emergency order from Florida health officials after two women who had undergone procedures at the clinic were hospitalized this year
8:57PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Perdue says Abrams 'demeans her own race' on eve of primary
Georgia Republican candidate David Perdue is accusing Stacey Abrams of “demeaning her own race” in Abrams’ recent criticism of Georgia’s quality of life for its residents
8:35PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Semenya says she offered to show track officials her body
Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya says she offered to show her vagina to athletics officials when she was just 18 years old to prove she was a female
7:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
Surgeon: Johnny Depp's severed finger story has flaws
A hand surgeon has testified that Johnny Depp could not have lost the tip of his middle finger the way he told jurors it happened in his civil lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard
5:56PM ( 3 hours ago )
Life imitates art: 'Jaws' extra named police chief
A man who as a child had a brief but key role in “Jaws” has been named police chief on the Massachusetts island on which the 1975 movie was partially filmed
5:19PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Charges tossed for officers who pulled students from car
A prosecutor says he will not prosecute Atlanta police officers involved in a May 2020 confrontation with two college students
6:56PM ( 2 hours ago )
Global Citizen NOW summit seeks solutions for global issues
The statistics discussed at the inaugural Global Citizen NOW conference were bleak
6:34PM ( 2 hours ago )
Californians could see mandatory water cuts amid drought
California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he may impose mandatory water restrictions if people don't start using less as a drought drags on
6:30PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Davos updates | Urgent need in Afghanistan is saving economy
Two high-level speakers at the World Economic Forum gathering say Afghanistan’s most urgent need is saving its economy from complete collapse
3:21PM ( 6 hours ago )
Pfizer says 3 COVID shots protect children under 5
Pfizer says three small doses of its COVID-19 vaccine protect kids under 5
3:15PM ( 6 hours ago )
European Central Bank chief signals possible July rate hike
The president of the European Central Bank has given the clearest sign yet that policymakers will aim to raise interest rates as soon as July to ease surging inflation
3:08PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Davos updates | IMF chief says global recession not expected
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund says a global recession isn’t in the cards but “it doesn’t mean it’s out of the question.”
12:10PM ( 9 hours ago )
Ex-rebel emerges as favorite in Colombian presidential race
A one-time rebel fighter has used an emotional anti-establishment discourse and promises to boost state involvement in the economy to garner a commanding lead in polls as Colombia heads into Sunday's presidential election
12:01PM ( 9 hours ago )
Davos updates | Experts push for promotion of 'blue foods'
The director of the Center for Oceans Solutions at Stanford University has called for the integration of ‘blue foods’ — a shorthand for fisheries and other aquatic products — into the global food system
11:50AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band to tour in US, Europe
The Boss is hitting the road again
9:03PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Florida suspends abortion clinic after hospitalizations
An abortion clinic serving women from all over the U.S. South had its license suspended this weekend under an emergency order from Florida health officials after two women who had undergone procedures at the clinic were hospitalized this year
8:57PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Perdue says Abrams 'demeans her own race' on eve of primary
Georgia Republican candidate David Perdue is accusing Stacey Abrams of “demeaning her own race” in Abrams’ recent criticism of Georgia’s quality of life for its residents
8:35PM ( 47 minutes ago )
After 3 months of war, life in Russia has profoundly changed
When Vladimir Putin announced Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the war seemed far away from Russian territory
8:32PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Russian sentenced to life in Ukraine's 1st war crimes trial
A Russian soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a Ukrainian civilian was sentenced to life in prison
8:21PM ( 1 hour ago )