Telling Atwood’s Tale

SFFaudio Commentary

Offered here, with small commentary, is a complete listing of the audio editions and adaptations of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. A note from the Wikipedia entry:

“The [paperbook version of the] novel concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called ‘the Gilead Period.’ The epilogue itself is a ‘transcription of a Symposium on Gileadean Studies written some time in the distant future (2195),’ and according to the symposium’s ‘keynote speaker’ Professor Pieixoto, he and ‘a colleague’, Professor Knotly Wade, discovered Offred’s narrative recorded onto thirty cassette tapes. They created a ‘probable order’ for these tapes and transcribed them, calling them collectively ‘the handmaid’s tale’.” offers a critical analysis of Offred’s experiences in the Republic of Gilead; There, you’ll find an assertion that the novel’s title title – arguing that it’s – a “sexist pun on the word tale/tail” playing off the association with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and the role that handmaids are forced to play in Gileadean society.

BBC Radio:

BBC RADIO COLLECTION - The Handmaid's Tale [RADIO DRAMA]The Handmaid’s Tale
3 Broadcasts (2 Cassettes) – Approx. 3 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: 2000
ISBN: 0563553561
Recorded on location in and around New York.

BBC World ServiceOff The Shelf – The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Jocelyn Cunningham
fifiteen 15 Minute Episodes – Approx. 3 Hours 45 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC World Service / Off The Shelf
Broadcast: May-June 1993

BBC Radio 4Book At Bedtime? – The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Buffy Davis
10x 30mins or 10x 15mins [ABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 / BBC Radio 7?
Broadcast: 1995 / December 2007?

BBC Radio 3English National Opera – The Handmaid’s Tale*
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood;
1 Broadcast – Approx. 2 Hours 45 Minutes [OPERA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 3
Broadcast: 2003
*Performed for the first time in Copenhagen in 2000.

CBC Radio:

BTC AUDIO - The Handmaids Tale - CBC RADIO DRAMAThe Handmaid’s Tale
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood; Adpated by Michael O’Brien; Performed by a full cast
2 Broadcasts, 2 CDs – Approx. 1 Hour 43 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio / Sunday Showcase
Broadcast: August 11 and 18, 2002
Publisher: BTC Audiobooks
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0864923414
Janey Amos … Cora
Greg Bryk … Guardian
Alex Bulmer … Ofglen #2, Woman being chased
Emma Campbell … Offred
Kim Campbell … Aunt Elizabeth
Richard Clarkin … Nick
John Cleland … Guardian, TV announcer
William B. Davis … The Commander
Shirley Douglas … Aunt Lydia
Michelle Fisk … Rita
Catherine Fitch … Oflgen #1
Donna Goodhand … Serena Joy
Juliana Hayden-Nygren … Daughter
William Johnston … Guide, Guardian, TV announcer
Kim Kuhteubl … Ofjohn, Woman
Richard Lee … Cashier, Tourist, Man who dies, Guardian
Hardee T. Lineham … Doctor
Juno Mills-Cockell … Ofwarren
Rahnuma Pathaky … Woman in gym, Woman, Woman in washroom
Andrew Tarbet … Luke, Guardian
Kristen Thomson … Moira
Diana Tso … Tourist, Woman, Woman greeting
Terry Tweed … Mother

Dramatized by Michael O’Brien
Directed and produced by Ann Jansen
Recording Engineer Joe Mahoney
sound Effects by Wayne Richards and Matthew Wilcott
Mastered by Lloyd Hanson
Introduction by Robbie O’Neill
Original music by Michael White


CHIVERS AUDIO - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Joanna David
8 Cassettes – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1985
ISBN: 0745168086
Near the end of the 20th century, birth control and the effects of nuclear fallout have caused fewer births, so the Biblical story of Rachel is invoked to handle the declining birth rate.

DURKIN HAYES - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaids Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Julie Christie
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listen For Pleasure / Durkin Hayes Audio / dhAudio
Published: 1987 / 1988
ISBN: 0886462142
“A dystopian novel of a world ruled by militaristic fundamentalism in which sexual pleasure is forbidden.”

RECORDED BOOKS - The Handmaids Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Betty Harris
8 Cassetes or 10 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 9781556902161 (cassette), 9781436179850 (cd)
ISBN: 2002
This novel has been described as “a women’s 1984.” As with Orwell’s futuristic thriller, The Handmaid’s Tale is well-written, politically astute, and contains enough reality mixed in with the fantastic to compel and horrify. Although the novel has a feminist perspective, it addresses the universal issues of individual autonomy and freedom.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Leave a Reply