Few contemporary novels have had the kind of cultural and social impact that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has had for the last 35 years. Proof of its continuing relevance and importance can be found in the many adaptations over the years of the novel to the screen (TV and film), to the stage (opera, ballet) and to the page once again (graphic novel). To explore the move from the novel’s telling of a story to the multiple dramatizations of it in different media is also to investigate not only this particularly prescient novel’s success but also the question of the ubiquity of adaptations in our culture today.
Linda Hutcheon, University Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, is a specialist in postmodern culture and critical theory (especially irony, parody and adaptation), on which she has published 9 books. She is guilty of having indulged in interdisciplinary work with Michael Hutcheon, M.D., Professor of Medicine, U of T, on the intersection of medical and cultural history, studied through the vehicle of opera. They have published 4 books on topics such as disease, death and the body—most recently, Four Last Songs: Aging and Creativity in Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen, and Britten (U of Chicago Press, 2015). The recipient of major fellowships, awards, and honorary degrees, in 2000 she was elected the 117th President of the Modern Language Association of America.