Part 1: Bibliographic Entry RefAnnBib
Atwood, Margaret. “Margaret Atwood: The Road to Ustopia.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Oct. 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/oct/14/margaret-atwood-road-to-ustopia.
Part 2: Terminology/Keywords
- Science Fiction
- Speculative fiction
- inter-genre visiting
Part 3: Précis
In this article, Margaret Atwood writes in response to critics who have called her out for not wanting to classify her novels as science fiction. In an attempt to classify her writing, Atwood explores this idea that her books, unlike science fiction, follow a sense of “speculative fiction” as they play on theories and possibilities that could happen but haven’t yet happened. Additionally, Atwood ties all these ideas with her fascination with creating other worlds and how that takes into consideration utopias and dystopias. Atwood believes that classifying genres is difficult as the borders are undefended as inter-genre visiting and the looseness of genre terminology allows for a sense of confusion.
Atwood then goes into a discussion about the word ustopia which is a term she created to combine utopia and dystopia, both the perfect and imperfect, into one word. Atwood makes the connection that a ustopia is very much like hell, which is not a physical tangible place, but more of a state of mind. Atwood proceeds to talk about ustopias as she explains how she tackled writing one in The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood experienced first-hand a totalitarian regime that was supposed to be a utopia which helped to inspire her to delve into a ustopia society. She also identifies the elements of utopia in The Handmaid’s Tale which can be seen in the past and the future of the story.
Part 4: Reflection
Atwood emphasizes this “utopia embedded within a dystopia” which I think is an important idea that I want to incorporate in my paper. Utopias and dystopias do not stand alone but instead, they somewhat balance one another. Overall, I found this article to be very informative and as I am thinking about using “The Handmaid’s Tale” as an example of a dystopia, a failed utopia, I thought reading about Atwood’s thoughts towards her own book would help me gain a deeper understanding of the expression of a “ustopia” in “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Atwood also referenced “The Lottery”, a short story by Shirley Jackson, that I am also considering incorporating in my essay. Having these examples of dystopias in literature and modern-day society will be important additions to my essay.
Part 5: Quotables
“Ustopia is a world I made up by combining utopia and dystopia – the imagined perfect society and its opposite – because, in my view, each contains a latent version of the other.”
“Historically, Ustopia has not been a happy story. High hopes have been dashed, time and time again. The best intentions have indeed paved many roads to Hell.”
“What, then, is the little utopia concealed in the dystopic world of The Handmaid’s Tale? There are two: one is in the past (the past that is our own present). The second is placed in a future beyond the main story by the afterword at the end of the book, which describes a future in which Gilead – the tyrannical republic of The Handmaid’s Tale – has ended and has thus become a subject for conferences and academic papers. “
“We’re stuck with us, imperfect as we are; but we should make the most of us. Which is about as far as I myself am prepared to go, in real life, along the road to Ustopia.”