Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale Gets Fireproof Version in Protest of Book Ban

“I thought America was against totalitarianism. If this is the case, then it is undoubtedly important that young people can recognize their signs. One such sign is the ban on books. Do I need to say more?” asked Margaret Atwood when her book The Handmaid’s Tale was banned, becoming the seventh most difficult book on American Library Association list in 2019.

Agree or disagree, in my opinion, quality writing should be recognized and discussed, especially when the topics provide food for thought and commentary on the issues people face in their societies. And when a book written almost 40 years ago predicts a future that we are slowly moving towards, it needs to be addressed.

Author and Random penguin house got together and forged a copy of the book that cannot be destroyed, at least not by fire. Paying tribute to all the knowledge that was lost during the book fires and raising money to support PEN Club of America decisive work to counter the national crisis of censorship, is a true representation of the words: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Let’s get into the details.

More information: Instagram

Penguin Random House presents an incredible collaboration with Margaret Atwood and her book The Handmaid’s Tale – The Unburnable Book

Image credits: Random penguin house

The Handmaid’s Tale became a modern classic, widely acclaimed by those who read it. Published in 1985, the dystopian novel focuses on the survival and liberation of endangered women who go through devaluation, coercion, enslavement, torture and outright genocide.

However, because of these themes, it has been banned in many schools, libraries, and even countries. The book itself has been criticized for being anti-Christian, anti-Islamic, and for its depiction of sex and violence, among other things. However, the book sheds light on questions which modern women face in society, which makes it a symbol of feminist resistance.

Constructed from non-reflective aluminum foil, metal wire, and stainless steel, the book is flame retardant up to 2600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Image credits: margaretatwood

The book is one of hundreds currently facing ban in the US. PEN America, which has been at the forefront of the fight against censorship in American schools, documented 1,586 individual book bans across 86 school districts in 26 states between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

The irony of freedom of speech is quite obvious. First amendment guarantees the right to freedom of expression and association, which means that the government does not have the right to prevent people from speaking their truth, however, they must conform to certain standards and topics, or else they may be silenced due to being perceived as “harmful” .

Approved by Margaret Atwood, the project aims to raise awareness of censorship in the US as The Handmaid’s Tale remains one of the most banned books in the country.

Image credits: Random penguin house

Yet the most frequently censored books are sexual and mental health books featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists and historical figures, many of whom are of color. It will not be a mistake to ask the question – why are these topics considered harmful and for whom? I believe a quote from The Handmaid’s Tale sums it up well: “A rat in a maze can go anywhere as long as it stays inside the maze.”

But, despite the debate ahead of us, let’s get back to the history of the present – the birth of the Fireproof Book. Fireproof Story was a collaborative project between PEN, Margaret Atwood, Penguin Random House, and two Toronto-based companies, creative agency Rethink and The Gas Company Inc. materials and processes have been researched and tested by Doug Laxdal.

To demonstrate the power of the book, Atwood took a flamethrower and set it on fire, paying homage to the knowledge lost in the book burning bonfires.

Image credits: margaretatwood

According to Uprox, it is capable of withstanding up to 2600 degrees Fahrenheit or 1426 degrees Celsius. For context, paper ignites at around 480 degrees Fahrenheit (248 °C), getting much hotter when it burns. While this is slightly different from what is mentioned in Ray Bradbury’s infamous book, 451 degrees Fahrenheitit’s still an impressive feat, making the new version about 5 times more resistant to fire damage.

To test the book’s durability, 87-year-old Margaret Atwood pointed a flamethrower at the novel, which set fire to her work. The moment, followed by the statement “Because strong words will never fade,” pays homage to all literature that has succumbed to the flames of censorship. While it is still not known that her work was burned, it sparks debate about censorship and historical events where, driven by cultural, religious, or political opposition to the topics or subjects under consideration, knowledge has been systematically destroyed.

This was stated by the CEO of PEN America Suzanne Nossel. Globe and mail: “There’s something about this fireproof book concept that I think captures the moment and the determination we all feel to resist the onslaught.” Whereas Markus DoleCEO of Penguin Random House, said, “To see her classic novel about the perils of oppression revived in this groundbreaking, unbearable title is a timely reminder of what is at stake in the battle against censorship.”

A dystopian novel published in 1985 that focuses on the survival and emancipation of endangered women, topics that are becoming increasingly common today.

Image credits: Random penguin house

“When it comes to projects like this, you don’t get a second chance,” Mr. Martin said, while Jared Bland added, “I knew Margaret would love the idea because it was important to her and because she loves naughty things. “. However, the task was not for the faint of heart, as it took more than two months to complete.

First, find the paper on which the words will be printed. When the flame retardant paper didn’t work, they stumbled upon non-reflective aluminum foil paper, painted on both sides. It was not only non-flammable, but also thin enough to pass through the company’s printer without being damaged.

After it was printed, they needed a cover. The team ordered flame retardant fabric from Amazon, but it was not of good quality. They went back to aluminum foil for the outside and a high temperature resistant phenolic material for the board. Once it became clear that they would survive the arson, they needed to stitch the book together.

The book is currently in the process of being auctioned to raise money for PEN America by leading the fight against book bans and educational gag bans.

Image credits: Random penguin house

They bought metal wire from a craft store to replace regular thread, and after about 7 hours of hand sewing, the book was close to completion. They added stainless steel head and tail bands ordered from an electronics supplier and the project was complete.

Jeremy thought the book looked almost too authentic, only distinguishable from the original by the silver edges of the pages and weight. “Absolutely nothing in this book will burn,” he said. “If you brought a flamethrower to it, there would be some smoke and some smell. But it will still be a readable book.”

The book is currently up for auction in New York to raise money for PEN America, which is leading the fight against book bans and educational bans, and to raise awareness of book censorship in general.

The fireproof edition of The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful symbol against censorship and the voicing of those who have been silenced.

Image credits: AktuaLitte

As incredible as this project is, we must not forget the rights it stands for – freedom of speech and equality. It is interesting to observe how “Life imitates Art much more than Art imitates Life”, in the words Oscar Wildeas some of the themes in The Handmaid’s Tale are of increasing concern today, with Rowe vs. Wadeprotecting the freedom of a pregnant woman to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions on the verge of being abolished.

Books of the past that predicted a dystopian future have become the crystal balls of modernity as we seem to be revisiting more and more. To ban or burn writing means to burn history and knowledge; daily life and the influence of time, as well as fears, observations and assumptions about what is coming.

You can watch a full fireproof book demo here.

Let us know what you think of this idea and what kind of books you would like to see printed on fireproof paper!

People liked the idea and suggested that all books should have one. Others could see political and social parallels. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: