Visions of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Fifteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

By Allienne R. Becker | Go to book overview

6
The Engendering of Narrative in Doris Lessing's Shikasta and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Earl G. Ingersoll

Pairing up Doris Lessing Shikasta and Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale makes the two writers seem like the figures in one of those old-fashioned barometers that turn up in garage sales every once in a while: you know, the gadget in which one figure steps out of the little house as the other figure backs in. Although Atwood's work was well regarded critically before the appearance of The Handmaid's Tale in 1985, the "science-fiction" novel made her a best-selling author and clearly enhanced her literary reputation. Lessing's case is quite different. The appearance of the first "space-fiction" novel of the Argos in Canopus series, Shikasta, in 1979 put at risk much of her readership. As she herself reports, her readers have responded with comments such as, "The publishers who published this should be shot!" and "Fan as I am of Doris Lessing, I will never read another novel of hers as long as I live!" And there have been those persistent rumors that Lessinghad been short-listed for the Nobel Prize for Literature until the committee took offense at her straying out of the so-called mainstream into science fiction. Were it not for the counter-evidence of The Handmaid's Tale, one might be tempted to see her as a martyr to the cause of literary fantasy. Both writers have made clear departures from conventional realist narratives, perhaps for similar reasons, and yet Lessing's departure has been a more radical one. Both Shikasta and The Handmaid's Tale, however, raise some interesting questions about the gender of narrative paradigms.

One of many elements evident in the fiction of both Lessing and Atwood is the problem of closure. The Handmaid's Tale does not "end," it stops--twice. The narrative proper as told by Offred stops as she is stepping into the van, when she says: "Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it can't be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light" (295).

We turn the page, knowing that more pages remain, only to discover then that we are in an even more distant future--2195, perhaps two hundred years after the future

-39-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Visions of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Fifteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 212

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.