Monday, June 22, 2009

Banned, Censored, Challenged: 1984

This book shows what could happen in a totalitarian state. It centers around a man named Winston Smith, who lives in such a state called Oceania. It was written by George Orwell in 1948 and published in 1949. The title is the year in which the novel is set. Orwell chose "1984" to show how soon he thought this dystopian society could be brought about. In those days, the possibility of having "Oceania" seemed very real.

This book is and has been one of the most frequently challenged novels of modern times. Most of the challenges center around the discussion of communism, although the novel is anti-communist and very "pro-freedom".

The sexuality and profanity in the book are also an issue in high school libraries and classrooms.

Every student should be exposed to the idea of a totalitarian government, "Big Brother", "thoughtcrime"... also, Orwell's work captures the fears of his times, so it has historical value. The thing that I love most about 1984 is the concept of "newspeak" a language developed by the officials. They know that if they take away the words for ideas, that people will have no means of revolting. If you don't have the words, how do you grasp the concept?

When weighed against the novel's historical value, literary value and the richness of its ideas, banning the book because of the author's affiliations- or worse, its profanity-is trivial. Everyone who wishes to ban books is paying homage to Big Brother- keeping books out of people's (even teen people's) hands is all about controlling how they think and what they think about.

The Thought Police hate books. What could be a bigger threat to them?


Rebecc said...

This is one of my favorite books of all-time and I think it is a very important book for everyone to read just once. It is amazing how close science fiction can come to reality. Thanks for featuring this one.

George W Whitehead said...

'Big Brother is watching you' certainly rings true here in the UK. We have more cctv cameras than anyother place on the planet. (Fact)

Guest said...

I have read that there are people who want this book banned because they believe it to be pro-communist. Such people have obviously never even read the book in question. Far from being banned, this book should be required reading (and indeed was in my high school).

Anonymous said...

Isn't it ironic that a book about censorship be censored?

Brice said...

I think it's ridiculous that people think this book should be banned. Communism is an important part of history and a book about it shouldn't be censored.

Anonymous said...

This book was meant as a lesson of what a society should avoid, so it's incredible that people would want to ban it. There are parts of the US govt that have already gone beyond the invasion of privacy that this book talks about, and they use 9/11 to justify their methods. Mind-reading via satellites has been around since the 1970's, it is being used by agencies all over the country, and I am going through it right now. Believe me, not even George Orwell could have imagined the mental water-boarding and other torture techniques that I have been put through by the gov't.

Carl Rosenberg said...

That there are right-wingers who think that Orwell, or his books, were pro-communist doesn't surprise me at all.

There is an old joke (maybe based on a true story, for all I know) about a policeman beating up a demonstrator who cries, "But I'm an anti-communist," to which the cop replies, "I don't care what kind of communist you are." Maybe this a case of life imitating humour or satire or whatever.

Anonymous said...

This is a good book but has some inappropriate content.

Anonymous said...

The Thought Police hate books. What could be a bigger threat to them?

communication. always in the book winston is scared of the telescreen because it tracked his movements and more importantly who he was attempting to communicate to. him seeing the picture that proved those three men innocent made him dangerous if he was ever trying to communicate the truth to make the person listen it could be a problem for if they had to get that listener to room 101 and convince him he heard lies and was a betrayer for believing them. the book can be burned but a person who has seen it like winstons photo incident could be communicated and expressed.
people even do it now with authorization to be viewed by the public with their own profiles makes double think work with how you want your profile presented and what someone really put up there.