Monday, September 28, 2009

My Favorite Banned Books: 1984

This week, September 27-October 3, is Banned Books Week, a time to honor those authors whose books have created waves of controversy among the selfish and simple-minded.

I truly believe the people who seek to ban books from libraries and schools are indeed self-centered, egotistical individuals. How else to explain why someone wants to prevent others from reading something - forever! - simply because he or she doesn't approve of it?

Isn't it enough to exert influence over your friends and children with your opinion? When I don't like a television show or a song, and the subject of said show or song arises during conversation, I will offer my opinion to the person I'm talking to. But I would never tell that person to not watch or listen - ever! Who am I to tell you what to do?

Well, now I am going to tell you what to do. Put "1984" on your TBR list if you haven't already. And spread the word.

"1984" by George Orwell is one of my very favorite novels of all time. It's been banned in the past because of perceived pro-Communist views and sexually explicit material. The book tells the story of Winston Smith, a disillusioned worker drone in the Ministry of Truth. His country, Oceania, is at war with either Eastasia or Eurasia and depending on what is happening, history is constantly rewritten to accommodate the changes. For instance, if Oceania and Eurasia are allies now, history will be rewritten to show that they have always been allies.

Wherever Winston is, Big Brother is watching. The government knows if he is doing his morning exercises or not, if he's sneaking out to be with someone, if he isn't doing his job. Repercussions are severe.

When Winston meets a young woman, Julia, he is suddenly lifted out of his crappy existence. She helps him find a place for them to meet and have sex (they live in a sexually repressed society) away from the watchful eyes of BB.

But of course, life cannot become pleasant for Winston, can it? Very quickly, he is betrayed and brought to the dreaded Room 101 for torture. Torture here is based on your own fears (in Winston's case, it's rats). He is forced to give up Julia - but was it she who turned him in? Or someone else? Can anyone ever really trust anyone else?

Tomorrow...A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.