Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Handmaid's Tale and Rechberg

Book recommendation: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

With The Handmaid’s Tale Margarte Atwood follows the tradition of George Orwell’s 1984 by drawing up the picture of an alternative, dystopian present. The novel’s reality is based on a well-controlled patriarchate in which women are put into a position that is reminiscent of the nineteenth century. “Families” consist, if they are lucky, of a husband and a wife, between who there is often no love lost, and a Handmaid, whose job it is to get pregnant, give birth to a child and then to be referred to the next family.
The protagonist of the novel is one of these Handmaids and tells her version of the time before society changed and how she now lives after the change. While rather little actually happens in the novel, the reader’s interest is kept throughout the 280 pages by the glimpses that Atwood gives us about “her” society. We learn about its rules, people’s resistance and find enjoyment in discovering similarities to religious dogmas and society as it was a century ago.

What I find fascinating about the dystopian stories that I have come across recently is their obsession with childhood and childbirth. I was strongly reminded of the film Children of Men when I read The Handmaid’s Tale. Both stories pick out childbirth, or rather the lack of it, as a central theme. It’s probably reasonable enough – after all, Science Fiction criticizes the present by showing how the future may look like if we continue as we do; and children are one of the strongest symbols for the future. No children – no future.


This weekend was another medieval fair, this time in Rechberg. The promotion already started a week before the event, on Monday, when the band Rhiannon began a trip on foot from Linz to Rechberg (60km) in four days, accompanied by a baker with his donkey, the Tuchfärberey. Which is an endeavour that, in my eyes, absolutely rocks.

The market itself was wonderful. Situated in the middle of Mother Nature, very large and friendly. The music seemed to be more of the quiet kind, which is rare on markets, as the bands usually need to gather attention. I enjoyed the more peaceful music a lot.
Unfortunately the market only takes place once every two years, and it isn’t sure if it will be the same next time, which is a shame. I could have spent days there (Sunday alone went by too fast and simply wasn’t enough).

The beginning of the trip on Monday in Linz.

Some of the musicians played additionally apart from the announced program. Here's the new band member of Rhiannon with her harp.

We squeezed in a little photo session on one of the sidetracks that led from one area to another. (Her smile is actually nervous. "Wellll. I'm sitting on a slippery, moss-covered stone and at some point I need to get off again.")

"Now I'll freeze like that, become a statue, then I won't have to get off at all."
(Medieval leather-shoes are actually very tough for walking and climbing around like that. Christine rescued me several times from fallling very hard.)

20.000 shades of green.

A highlight of the fair. This German Spitz was the most hyperactive dog I've ever seen. In a cute "Give me attention! I wanna play! I'm here! Look at me!" sort of way. And whenever he got the attention of his owner he happily freaked out :D

After the end of the fair Christine and I went to the near observation tower in the forest.
I'm biased, but I think the Mühlviertel has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Austria. Forest, hills, all very soft and round and green.

And became queens of the world for some odd minutes (Well, she did. I was much too concerned by the suspicious noises the wood of the tower made whenever we moved).

Not quite an adventurous pirate lass, but maybe at some point in the future...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dogs *G*
I exactly know what you talk about! This kind of manner is quite common to all dogs I think...