Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell & Giveaway

This post is a part of Sheila's Banned Books Week Awareness Celebration. Go check out her blog, Book Journey for a full list of each day's participants.

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

1984 by George Orwell

Originally published in 1949, Nineteen Eighty Four is George Orwell's final novel and is one of the most notable novels in the dystopian genre. He created a world where Big Brother, a government construct to serve as a rallying point of the Party, as a king or president might in their respective government types. The government determined what its citizens do, think, eat, and even who they marry. The government controls history- if they decided to change something in the present, every form of record (tv, books, newspapers, etc.) were altered so that it has always been that way. Everything was done for the good of the party. They monitored the population by way of telescreens to make sure they toe the party line. If they didn't, they punished them by making them not exist. The protagonist, Winston Smith, begins remembering the changes that have occurred, and starts with small bouts of rebellion: Buying not approved items, thinking thoughts denouncing Big Brother, and ultimately entering a relationship of his own choosing. And it is only a matter of time until Big Brother comes for him.

ALA cites 1984 as being challenged in Jackson County, Florida in 1981, for being "pro-communist and containing explicit sexual matter." When this was written, World War II had only recently ended, and out of it emerged the Soviet Union as a major world power. The Soviet Union took over operation of Eastern Europe after the war, and encouraged the growth of communism around the world. In America, the Red Scare was rising, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, where fear of the spread of communism led to accusations of espionage and other "un-American activities". People were blacklisted, and numerous hearings and trials held. This is where America was when Nineteen Eighty Four was published, and this beliefs were still influencing thoughts in 1981, when this particular challenge occurred. No doubt, many similar challenges were made in prior years.

But what is in the claim? The novel is a commentary on Stalin's use of the cult of personality, which Wikipedia defines as:
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized, heroic, and, at times god-like public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.
This is exactly what Big Brother is, and perhaps for this reason, some editions sport a Stalin-esque figure on the cover. Big Brother has history rewritten to glorify his plans and actions as being for the good of the people, and show how caring he is. But Winston knows the original truth, and begins challenging it by first disbelieving it, to even attempting to join a resistance movement. Trying to challenge a Communist-esque system, is hardly supporting the system. Success or failure, Winston's motivation was to change how things were done. As to the "explicit sexual matter"- yes, there is sex in the novel. Explicit, no, I don't think so, and not by 1980s standards either. Gone with the Wind has more explicit sex scenes in it, and that is and has been a novel beloved by many, especially pre-teen girls.


When I was at ALA this summer, I picked up a package of this year's bookmark design. Now this is the Facebook Timeline header, which provides a better picture of the designs used on either side of the bookmark.

From Sawcat's Book Blog
I will take 10 standard sized envelopes and mail a few of these out to people. If USPS delivers to you (or hands off to your country), you can enter. Yup, all you international folks, that would include you. Just enter in the Rafflecopter form below. a Rafflecopter giveaway


Jennifer Hartling said...

Great post about a wonderful book! Thanks for sharing :)

Liesel Hill said...

Thanks for the review. This is one I've never actually read. My sister is in love with it and because of that I know the story pretty well (because she's told it to me almost word for word) but I really need to get around to reading it sometime. Thanks for the review and the giveaway! :D

Sheila DeChantal said...

Oh my! I love those bookmarks!!!! I have never read 1984 but I want to!

Sheila DeChantal said...

Oh - and that is soooo sweet that you included me in the twitter follow!

Petty Witter said...

A book I first read at school. Strangely enough we thought it much more interesting once we found out that it was one a banned book list.

Ryan Stonge said...

This is one of my all-time favorite novels. When I think of future possibilities i always flip flop between Orwell's version and Brave New World, depending on my brand of pessimism that day.

Jennifer Brown said...

I read this back when I was a senior in high school, so it's been over ten year since I read it. Great post though! I should go back and re-read this one, one of these days :

Kristi said...

I haven't read 1984, but I picked myself up a copy a few months back. I'm hoping to get to it soon.

Rachel Bradford said...

I read this book when I was too young and it gave me a headache. :) Maybe I should go for the "adult" reread.

Rachel Bradford said...

Woops, apparently I'm not as tech-savvy as I thought? My name didn't appear on that comment