A politics of auto-cannibalism:Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Christou, Maria (2016) A politics of auto-cannibalism:Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Literature and Theology, 30 (4). pp. 410-425. ISSN 0269-1205

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The debate concerning the biblical intertexts of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale has revolved around the question of the Bible’s role in the latter: as a tool for suppression and as a potential tool for subversion. The present article re-opens this crucial debate, shifting its focus and contributing to it in two interrelated ways. Whilst the explicit link between the theocracy of Atwood’s Gilead and its totalitarianism has been elaborated on, a specific analogy between Gilead and Nazi Germany drawn in the text remains underexplored in terms of its correlation with the novel’s biblical intertexts. This essay engages with the Gilead-Nazi Germany analogy in these terms, focusing – and this is its second contribution – on the novel’s intertextual entanglement with the story of the sacrificial lamb of the Passover, which still remains unexamined today, in 2015, the year that marks the thirtieth anniversary of the novel’s publication. Both the Passover sacrifice and Atwood’s novel, I will argue, present us with a figurative self-consumption that points to a politics of ‘auto-cannibalism’, which illuminates the parallel between Gilead and Nazi Germany whilst fleshing out its implications on Atwood’s treatment of the tripartite association between politics, sacrifice, and eating.

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Journal Article
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Literature and Theology
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This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Literature and Theology following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Christou, Maria A politics of auto-cannibalism : Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Literature and Theology 2016 30, 4: 410-425 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/litthe/article/30/4/410/2658475/A-Politics-of-Auto-Cannibalism-Margaret-Atwood-s
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09 Nov 2015 13:26
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21 Sep 2023 01:53