Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has often sparked controversy, facing book bans in the decades since its release in 1985.
And it was tested by Atwood with a real flamethrower.
“Never thought I would try to burn one of my own books…and fail,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that it was her “first time” using the ‘device.
Margaret Atwood using a flamethrower on the “unburnable” version of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Credit: Sotheby’s
At first glance, the Special Edition looks like any other paper-and-ink printed work, but it’s made with nickel wire, stainless steel, aluminum, and fire-resistant inks. It was created by graphic arts studio The Gas Company Inc. and creative agency Rethink.
“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has been banned multiple times,” Atwood said in a press release announcing the sale. “Let’s hope we don’t reach the stage of mass book burning, like in ‘Fahrenheit 451,'” she added, referring to the acclaimed 1953 novel in which books are destroyed to preserve a version America’s totalitarian. “But if we do, let’s hope some books turn out to be non-flammable – that they travel underground, like banned books did in the Soviet Union.”
Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, added, “In the face of a determined effort at censorship and silence, this unwritable book is an emblem of our collective determination to protect books, stories and ideas from those who fear and insult. We are grateful to be able to deploy proceeds from this auction to bolster this unprecedented fight for books.”