'These are old human themes': Margaret Atwood on the enduring power of The Handmaid's Tale

Author Margaret Atwood looks back at her 1985 novel, The Handmaid's Tale, which has recently been adapted into a new TV series starring Elizabeth Moss.
Margaret Atwood and Tom Power in the q studios in Toronto, Ont. (Cathy Irving/CBC)

"Who would've suspected it?"

Margaret Atwood is just as surprised as anyone that her 1985 novel, The Handmaid's Tale, holds a lot of gravity in 2017. Not only has the book been adapted into a new television series, but it has also become an important piece of commentary relating to today's political climate. 

In fact, the TV series was in the middle of filming when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and Atwood vividly remembers, "On Nov. 9, they woke up and thought, we're in a different show from the one that we thought we were in." 

"These are old human themes, and they've come up again and again in many different societies," Atwood notes. "There is no totalitarianism worth its salt that doesn't try to control women. They've tried to control men too, but in different ways."

The Handmaid's Tale airs on Hulu in the U.S. and on Sundays on Bravo in Canada.

— Produced by Elaine Chau