Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has often provoked controversy, facing book bans over the decades since its release in 1985.
And it’s been tested by Atwood with an actual flamethrower.
“I never thought I’d be trying to burn one of my own books… and failing,” she wrote on Twitter, adding 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
Upon first glance, the special edition looks like any other printed paper-and-ink work, but it is made of nickel wire, stainless steel, aluminum and fire-resistant inks. It was created by the graphic arts studio The Gas Company Inc. and creative agency Rethink.
“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has been banned many times,” Atwood said in a press release announcing the sale. “Let’s hope we don’t reach the stage of wholesale book burnings, as in ‘Fahrenheit 451’,” she added, referencing the acclaimed 1953 novel in which books are destroyed to preserve a totalitarian version of America. “But if we do, let’s hope some books will prove unburnable — that they will travel underground, as prohibited books did in the Soviet Union.”
Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, added, “In the face of a determined effort to censor and silence, this unburnable book is an emblem of our collective resolve to protect books, stories and ideas from those who fear and revile them. We are thankful to be able to deploy the proceeds of this auction to fortify this unprecedented fight for books.”