An outlier, a contrarian and a bad feminist, Margaret Atwood has been described in many ways in the thirty-five years since writing The Handmaid's Tale.
The best-selling author took to the stage of the Sydney Opera House for the sell-out Centre for Ideas event in 2019.
In her heartwarming, witty and idiosyncratic oration she warned us, "When next you see me, I might be some organic mixture, suitable for sprinkling on the rose bushes...presuming there are some rose bushes left."
Macabre predictions of the future is a superpower she shares in her writings of dystopian futures of which she is infamous. To the amusement of the audience, she humbly brushed aside this notion of power, as well as the many other popularised descriptions of her work. She explained her rules for writing The Handmaid's Tale were as simple as not adding anything that hasn't already happened sometime, somewhere.
If I was to create an imaginary garden, I want the toads I put in it to be real.
Since the event was in celebration of International Women's Day, the topic of feminism was addressed and she answered that question invariably asked, was The Handmaid's Tale a feminist novel?
Her answer is animated by artist Georgia Perry in the video below. Sound on for her distinctive, monotone voice with the gentle Canadian accent. Enjoy and share with your friends.
Recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in March 2019. Animated by Georgia Perry with thanks to the Jacky Winter Group.
Photos by Prudence Upton.
Author and poet Margaret Atwood at the Sydney Opera House