Monday, June 08, 2009

2 + 2 = 5

Sixty years ago today George Orwell gave us a vision of the future. Of a world where people live under constant surveillance—afraid to speak their minds. Where information is controlled by the government: history and truth altered as needed. Where two plus two can equal five.

Orwellian was a term thrown around a lot during the Bush administration. I remember sitting with friends and wearily agreeing how it was all so Nineteen Eighty-Four.

But I wonder... how many of my generation read Orwell? How many of the generation after us has? He wanted us to question totalitarianism and the abandonment of civil liberties for the illusion of safety. But maybe we're too busy reading about sexy sparkly vampires and the leather-clad ladies who love them.

14 comments:

Jessica Kennedy said...

I read Orwell. Love his books.

I've read Animal Farm and 1984. I've re-read them many times. They are classics. I'm 26 but I have an open mind and I don't just read about vamps and sex. :)

Chandra Rooney said...

And that's why you're awesome, Jessica. :)

I'm around the same age, and I remember we studied Animal Farm in jr high as an add-on to the history of the former Soviet Union.

I was just wondering, when YAs got to the bookstore hungry for something else like TWILIGHT, are they missing out by only looking for a specific type of book? Also, I don't know if 1984 is still taught in school.

Janicu said...

Yes, had to read 1984 and Animal Farm in HS. I even led a discussion on the last chapter of 1984 in class. I liked 1984 better.

Chandra Rooney said...

That makes me happy Janicu. I liked 1984 better, as well.

Sarah K said...

I've meant to read 1984 a whole bunch of times, but having been a French immersion student, it was never a part of my curriculum. And I haven't picked it up on my own, even though I know that I should.

But I have read other classics that I think are of a similar vein - Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood, and pretty much anything that John Wyndham wrote [that I've read, at any rate] was about the common person overcoming the strict rules of an oppressive society.

Chandra Rooney said...

I read The Chrysalis in school, Sarah. I also own 1984, which I will lend to you. You should read it after Little Brother.

Sarah K said...

See, I never had to read that in school, although virtually everyone else that I know did. His other books are really good too. One day when you're TBR pile is less enormous, perhaps I'll lend you some.

Chandra Rooney said...

I look forward to that day.

I'll probably lend you PEEPS and THE LAST DAYS because Jamie is borrowing our Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras books at the moment.

Sarah K said...

I read the Nyx last night, and liked it, although it was frustrating in its clearly being an origin tale and being a book devoted entirely to setting the scene. But I'm okay with that, because I really enjoyed the characters.

Haven't started Little Brother yet, but I'll probably get to it in the next couple of days.

Chandra Rooney said...

I like origin tales, but yes, it did leave me going "well, now what?"

Leigh said...

LOVE Orwell and have long aspired to write as influential a novel as 1984, one of THE defining books of the last century.

Oh wait...I'm probably not your generation. huh?

Chandra Rooney said...

We won't tell anyone, Leigh.

Rachel said...

True. We're so busy worrying about sex on tv and in the movies that we don't pay attention to the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, the elections in Iran or Zimbabwe, or the state of the rest of the world.

In fact, when it comes to freedom of speech, it's not just the government that might controlling our thoughts, but the internet as well.

I think it's both the worst and best thing for free speech and free thought. On the one hand, you can say anything you want. On the other, the world is not a much smaller place and anything you say will be held against you.

Baraness said...

So well said. Orwell was ahead of his time...genius.