Books: Repressions of a New Day the Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood; Houghton Mifflin; 311 pages; $16.95

Canadian Author Margaret Atwood's sixth novel will remind most readers of Nineteen Eighty-Four. That can hardly be helped. Any new fictional account of how things might go horribly wrong risks comparisons either with George Orwell's classic or with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. To a remarkable degree, these two books have staked out the turf of contemporary antiutopias. Which punishment is it to be this time? Relentless, inescapable totalitarianism or the mindless, synthetic stupors of technology? As it turns out, Atwood's look at the future takes place under conditions that Orwell would recognize. Repression is the order of the new day...

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