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|