An incombustible copy of ‘Handmaid's Tale’ was auctioned last night for $130,000.

An incombustible copy of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ was auctioned last night for $130,000.

The Handmaid’s Tale, a worldwide best seller since its first release in 1985, has been the subject of various bannings since its publication. Initially set to auction between 50,000 – 100,000 USD, it was anyone’s guess at how much this one-of-a-kind copy would end up auctioning for. 

The proceeds from the unburnable book go to a worthy cause, helping to drive greater attention, advocacy, and engagement against censorship with crucial support to PEN, whose only goal is to promote literature and defend freedom of expression worldwide. 

In a bid to highlight the need for freedom of expression, Atwood set fire to the book to demonstrate the book’s fireproof capabilities last month. In a video posted on Sotheby’s site, Atwood is shown with a flamethrower as she takes aim at the edition, which is printed on pages made from heat-resistant Cinefoil, sewn together with nickel and stainless steel wire and printed on 3mm phenolic sheets which are used in manufacturing, and inks that withstand 1200°C/2200°F.  Impressive. After which, the pages remain intact and free from any fire damage whatsoever with not even a whisper of black soot to be found.

margaret atwood book burning
Credit: Penguin

“I´m very pleased that the one-of-a-kind Unburnable Book of `The Handmaid´s Tale’ has raised so much money for PEN America,” Atwood said in a statement via PEN. “Free speech issues are being hotly debated, and PEN is a sane voice amidst all the shouting. The video of the book being torched by me and refusing to burn has now had a potential 5 billion views. We hope it raises awareness and leads to reasoned discussion.” 

Sotheby notes “The edition is “designed to protect this vital story and stand as a powerful symbol against censorship

The Fireproof edition of The Handmaid’s Tale benefitting PEN America has now sold, you can check out it out at Sotheby’s here.