Due to a lengthy road trip this past weekend, I chose to complete the remainder of The Handmaid’s Tale by audiobook. While it would be easy to take the vocal retelling of Atwood’s novel ar face value, I found out later that the audiobook version from Audible expanded the original in the Historical Notes. When Professor Pieixoto concludes with “are there any questions?” in the written version, the extended audiobook chose to include “questions and answers that I think the people at that symposium, occurring in 2195, might ask,” such as why the chapters were arranged in the order they were put in and why seven of the fifteen chapters were titled “Night.” While I was skeptical of this choice when I initially learned about this change, I have come to realize that this might be a better representation of Atwood’s initial story. Afterall, Offred’s story was recorded, not written, and that easily gets lost when read like a book. Similarly, even the Historical Notes are a voice, and in the same way that Offred chooses to leave out details and even admits her struggle to recall al events properly, the artistic choice to add a Q&A session parallels the importance of taking Offred’s accounts with a grain of salt.
In this version of the Historical Notes, Professor Pieixoto explains that he structured The Handmaid’s Tale chronologically to the best of his ability due to the seemingly random order the original tapes were left in. This has led me to wonder why Offred chose to recount her experiences vocally. Other than the purpose of preserving and safeguarding her story behind music, perhaps Gilead took a larger tole on her than originally thought, leading her to lack the ability or confidence in her own writing. I also found it interesting that the Hulu series of the Handmaid’s Tale chose to present Offred’s story in a different order. It seems that many different versions of the original story can be presented in many different ways. This connects perfectly to our previous discussion on sempiternity because not only does Offred’s story seem early similar to many other events throughout history when shown through the historical context of the symposium but even her own account seems to lack a coherent order from start to finish.