Page 7 - Boca ViewPointe - November '19
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November 2019                                                    Viewpointe, Page 7
      Book Review

       Adapting To The Times                             Dickinson, and Melville wrote directly of their own experiences.
                                                            Two of our greatest authors have chosen to utilize this genre
       Margaret Atwood. The Testaments. New York: Doubleday,   for their own purposes. The noted American Muslim Indian
      2019                                               writer Salman Rushdie, who has steadfastly stood up to and put
      Salman Rushdie. Quichotte, A Novel. New York: Random   his life on the line in opposing the fanaticism of radical Islam,
       House, 2019.                                      has presented his message through the impersonation of the
       “Get thee to a nunnery.” Hamlet                   great medieval knight, Don Quixote. Ms. Atwood has chosen
       “I am Myra Breckinridge whom no man will ever possess.”   to build upon her earlier work.
       Gore Vidal                                           Among other purposes, The Handmaid’s Tale was a science
                                                         fiction ecological morality tale about the evolution to a society
       By Dr. Ronald J. Meyers                           of concubines or handmaids to respond to the global crisis of
                                                         war and infertility caused by chemical pollution. The Republic
          Literary adaptation is                         of Gilead came into being as a necessary progress to save
       perhaps the most ubiquitous                       humanity from extinction. But as Arnold Toynbee showed in his
       literary genre.  The great                        great twentieth historical compendium, all societies are organic,
       Hebrew Bible drew on the                          subject to rise, and then decline and fall. And so with Gilead.   to note how the work is received in that part of the world.)
       range of sources of the time                         Atwood’s current work is perhaps an exploration of high   Politically ruled over by the descendants of Indira Gandhi,
       from the Egyptian Book of the                     feminist thought, less science fiction or a Rachel Carson   Golda Meir, and many hope Elizabeth Warren. Women are
       Dead, Greek Literature, Code                      ecological primer. The prologue presents a new Athena, or in   restricted from driving, have to be attended by a suitable
       of Hammurabi, Babylonian,                         the modern context, Myra Breckinridge who strives to reflect the   Guardian, abortion along with sexual assault are punishable by
       Assyrian, Canaanite writing,                      new woman. The ladies of Gilead are not so much victims of a   death. And macho men are depicted as the universal villains,
       Epic of Gilgamesh as well                         crisis in fertility, but women who confront and reject bourgeois   evil protuberances of #Metoo fantasies, subject to appropriate
       as Jewish History and Myth. The New Testament as well as   values of capitalism and marriage.       punishment like particicution, being ripped apart for their sexual
       the Koran drew mightily upon the themes and teachings of      The Testaments presents the back story of Gilead, how   misdeeds, committed or imagined.
       the Hebrew Bible, for example the stories associated with   it became a pristine feminist Dystopia. An autocracy where      The story is told through three narrators, Aunt Lydia, Agnes
       Abraham and his family, and the achievements of King David   freedom is curtailed in a forced hierarchal order, where   and Baby Nicole, all of whom document their gospels both
       and prophetic writings adapted to the specific revelations and   ladies are groomed to thrive without men. According to strict   within and outside that community. Aunt Lydia, who presides
       teachings of Christianity and Islam.              Christian values. The Aunts, for all intents and purposes, have   as leader, had a rich secular life together with marriage, abortion
          In medieval times, it was virtually the primary literary   replaced the Commanders as the keepers of the faith, and in   and a career in law before she received the calling and undertook
       genre. The Arabian Nights, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Milton and   Gilead faith reigns supreme. Not the rigidity of New England   the arduous path to the ideals of Gilead. Agnes was born
       Shakespeare all made exclusive use of sources; until the   Protestantism but more akin to extreme fanatical piety where   outside Gilead, a child of love, probably the daughter of Luke
       eighteenth century during the Romantic Age where originality   love is sublimated into harsh cruelty, such conduct that exists,   and Offred, the heroine of The Handmaid’s Tale, but brought
       came into popularity, and authors like Wordsworth, Emily   for example, in Wahhabi Saudi doctrine. (It would be interesting   back, denied knowledge of her true parentage. Daisy, born as
                                                                                                           Baby Nicole in Gilead, but smuggled away, and then returns to
                                     Board Of Directors                                                    discover her family origins.

                                                                                                             The plot has to do with accepting the strict values of Gilead,
                   April 2019 – April 2020 Officers/Executive Committee                                    or risking death by escape. Agnes the heroine coming of age
                                                                                                           has to decide whether to marry in a culture where the stricture
                                                                                                           “better to marry than to burn” is interpreted quite literally.
         Chairman and President  Barry J. Haberman      District 5 Dan Gabrielle (La Corniche)             Instead enroll in a kind of women’s finishing school or college
         Vice Chair          Steve Retzer                  Esplanada, Caravelle, Palomar, La Corniche,
         Vice President      Gail Ehrlich                  and El Dorado                                   of mid-twentieth century exclusive to women where they are
         2nd Vice President      Jim Collins            District 6 Marvin Lazarowitz (Villa Stel)          educated in the qualities of leadership that will be required for
         Secretary           Steve  King                   Villa Flora, Montego Bay, Villa Stel, and Palladium  the new Herland.
         Treasurer           Harvey  Kaplan             District 7 Joyce Britt (Villa Sonrisa)                Rushdie presents his version of the notable medieval
                                                           The Plum/Cortina and Villa Sonrisa              knight in search of his ideal. For Cervantes it was ultimately
         District Directors                             District 8 Len Kagan (Costa del Sol)               symbolic of the medieval Catholic spiritual quest. Here a
         District 1 Alvaro Fernandez Caballero (Encantada)     Costa del Sol and Costa Brava               retired South Asian Pharmaceutical salesman travels in his Ford
            Encantada, Valencia and The Palms           District 9 Robin Gliboff (Edgewater)               Cruze through the U.S. in pursuit of his American Dream, in
         District 2 Steve King (Imperial Royale)           Edgewater Pointe Estates and Stratford Court    this instance a compatriot from Bombay Salma R. who took
            Promenade, Imperial Royale, Imperial, Regency                                                  Bollywood the Indian cinema by storm, and now turns her
            and Panaché                                 At Large Directors     At Large Directors          sights on Hollywood. He is accompanied by his son, Sancho
         District 3 Steve Retzer (La Mirada)            Through 2020           Through 2021
            La Mirada and Meridiana                     Carsten Bethge (Valencia)  Howard Davis (La Corniche)  Ponza, who is born of his fertile imagination creating life, but,
         District 4 Bob Greenstein (La Paz)             Jim Collins (Caravelle)  Gail Ehrlich (Villa Flora)  as in the original, the teenager provides a kind of reality check
            El Viento, La Paz, and Southwinds           Harvey Kaplan (Meridiana) Barry J. Haberman  (Encantada)  to the excesses of his seventy year old pater. There is a magical
                                                                                                           realism, a playfulness that is characteristic of Salman Rushdie’s
                                                                                                           style. Talking statues, caricatures like Evil Cent, a cricket guru
                                                                                                           who sprouts wisdom, and the Human Trampoline (Quichotte’s
                                                                                                           sister, sensible and rational) perhaps my favorite character.
                                                                                                              Both authors eschew sex in their work. The Ceremony of
                                                                                                           Sexual Intercourse, a threesome in fact, is central to the religion
                                                                                                           of The Handmaid’s Tale. Here Atwood elevates the medieval
                                                                                                           notion of abstention, and search for spiritual purity such as found
                                                                                                           in the medieval classic, The Diary of Margery Kempe. Rushdie
                                                                                                           sublimates love to the romantic ideal of worship. Both offer
         Do you know a family member,                                                                      critiques of the current state of secularism in the United States
                                                                                                           of America. Quichotte assaults the superficiality of American
         friend or a neighbor in need of                                                                   pop culture, in particular characteristic television fare. For
         Home Health Care?                                                                                 Atwood, freedom (capitalism) and promiscuity gone amok,
                                                                                                           which necessitate extreme measures. Both works are satires,
                                                                                                           which reflect the two authors’ disdain for modern times.
                                                                                                              Both works excel in avant-garde literary techniques.
                                                                                                           Atwood’s novel is told in the first person, but the challenge is
                                                                                                           to deduce which character is speaking, or telling her story. The
        Home Health Aides / Certified Nursing Assistants / Registered Nurses  to assist you with:          plot, an intricate Gothic Political thriller, vacillates between
                                                                                                           Revolutionary ardor and Counter Revolutionary repression, and
             • Personal Care      • Companionship     • Respite Care      • Alzheimers & Dementia Care     ultimate demise due in large measure to betrayal by leadership.
                      • Medication Management     • Transportation     • Meal Preparation                  Quichotte also has several levels, the story of the knight in his
                       • Light Housekeeping      • Grocery Shopping      • Post Surgery Care               adventures in the U.S.A., the story of the London author of the
                                                                                                           novel, multiple allusions to a variety of literary works like Moby
                                                                                                           Dick that find a voice in the narrative. The superficialities of
                                     Complimentary In-Home Consultation                                    American life, evil of racism and the opioid crises are the serious
                                                                                                           takeaways from the novel. In the end, the Man of La Mancha
                        Care provided in the comfort of your Home, Hospital, or Facility                   is happily and eternally united with Dulcinea by providing her
                                                                                                           with his gift of love.
               We accept All Long Term Care Insurance Policies and Private Pay – Affordable Rates             All in all, eccentric, obscure, and whimsical. Might those
                                                                                                           also apply to The Testaments? Which I can heartily recommend
              Family owned and operated. Boca Resident for 30+ years and Boca Pointe Members.              as a gift, one a winner, the other finalist for this year’s esteemed
                                                                                                           Booker Prize for Fiction, that you may wish to confer upon your
                            CALL TODAY:  561.740.8667                                                      all-too-literate friend.

                                    Florida Licensed and Insured NR# 30211558, NR# 30211706                   Dr. Ronald J. Meyers, a resident of La Paz, is an Emeritus
                                                                                                           Professor of English. 
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