« We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini-skirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style, an undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper flowers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light. »
Circonstances de lecture
Parce que ce livre fait énormément parler de lui depuis son adaptation en série TV et l’arrivée de Donald Trump au pouvoir aux Etats-Unis.
Avec « The Handmaid’s Tale » (« La Servante Écarlate »), Margaret Atwood nous entraîne dans une société américaine où les femmes se voient privées de toute liberté. Offred fait partie de la caste des « servantes », autrement dit elle est réduite au rôle de mère porteuse. Tout plaisir sexuel est prohibé. Sa seule « distraction » : sortir faire les courses alimentaires de la maison du Commandant qu’elle sert en compagnie d’une autre servante. Lire, écrire, se divertir sont tout simplement interdits.
J’ai aimé cette dystopie, même si le récit est assez lent et même si j’attendais un peu plus d’action et une conclusion moins ouverte. Un bon roman de SF, publié en 1986, qui fait réfléchir sur l’évolution possible de nos sociétés et de la condition des femmes.
Un passage parmi d’autres
The Japanese tourists come towards us, twittering, and we turn our heads away too late: our faces have been seen (…)
The interpreter turns back to the group, chatters at them in staccato. I know what he’ll be saying, I know the line. He’ll be telling them that the women here have different customs, that to stare at them through the lens of a camera is, for them, an experience of violation.
I’m looking down, at the sidewalk, mesmerized by the women’s feet. One of them is wearing open-toed sandals, the toenails painted pink. I remember the smell of nail polish, the way it wrinkled if you put the second coat on too soon, the satiny brushing of sheer pantyhose against the skin, the way the toes felt, pushed towards the opening in the shoe by the whole weight of the body. The woman with painted toes shifts from one foot to the other. I can feel her shoes, on my own feet. The smell of nail polish has made me hungry.
« Excuse me, » says the interpreter again, to catch our attention. I nod, to show I’ve heard him.
« He asks, are you happy, » says the interpreter. I can imagine it, their curiosity: Are they happy ? How can they be happy? I can feel their bright black eyes on us, the way they lean a little forward to catch our answers, the women especially, but the men too: we are secret, forbidden, we excite them.
Ofglen says nothing. There is a silence. But sometimes it’s as dangerous not to speak.
« Yes, we are very happy, » I murmur. I have to say something. What else can I say?
Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale – 1986 (Vintage)