George Orwells Banned Books

Posted 2014-09-13 by Bastion Harrisonfollow

George Orwell has written some of the world's most chilling fiction, yet he is not a crime novelist; nor did he he write horror or thriller books. Orwell wrote about politics.

His language was not dramatic or designed to build tension, yet his understated style created exactly that effect. What makes Orwell's stories so disturbing is their sheer plausibility. His environments and social structures are so close to real types of societies that it is not difficult to imagine these dystopian worlds one day coming to life.

What's also so chilling, is that the hardship, torture, and unjust deeds are not performed by criminals, but those on the side of the law. Those who make the rules. Those who wield the power.

Two of George Orwell's books are so close to home that they actually became banned in certain countries. The banning of books is not uncommon, particularly in non-democratic societies, but in my opinion, this only fuels citizens' desire to read them, and makes them question what it is the government is hiding.

In December 1936, George Orwell went to Spain, where he played an active part in the Spanish Civil War. It was during his time he that he gained critical views towards the Stalinist regime, and his political views sided to that of democratic socialism.

Orwell's novella, Animal Farm was strongly influenced by his experiences during that year, not only from his time spent in Spain, but also from his return to England, when he started a small farm with goats, a rooster, and a poodle called Marx. This probably was the inspiration for his setting.

Animal Farm criticises dictatorship; in particular, it reflects the events leading up to the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. What makes the allegory particularly interesting is the way it is told because the main characters are anthropomorphised animals.

At first it appears that humans are the dictators, and that all the animals are members of the lower classes, who rise up against their oppressors. Therefore, when the pigs kick the humans out of the farm, they first appear to be revolutionary heroes. With a name like Napoleon, however, there is a clear foreshadowing of things to come.

Things are not as black and white as 'animals versus humans', because when one group in power is taken over by another, it turns out things only get worse, a fact demonstrated all too often in real life.

Napoleon and his followers are the real dictators of this story, using lies, manipulation, brainwashing, and torture.

Orwell began writing Animal Farm in 1943, a politically volatile time due to the Second World War. It was for this reason that Orwell had trouble finding anyone willing to publish it, for fear that Britain might upset its allies in the USSR.

It was eventually published after the war in 1945 and became a Worldwide success, except, unsurprisingly in the USSR and other Communist countries, where it was banned until 1989.

In 2002, Animal Farm was banned in the United Arab Emirates for entirely different reasons. Muslims believed a talking pig went against Islamic values. They consider pigs as 'dirty' animals, and therefore, having one talking with the intelligence of a human is offensive.

Animal Farm does not go uncriticised by other religions either. Napoleon creates a list of rules called 'Animalism', which is a take on the 'Ten Commandments', which can cause controversy amongst Christians.

George Orwell's second controversial book is Nineteen Eighty-Four, which also focusses on the rise and fall of socialism and Stalin's totalitarian regime. Published in 1945, Stalin banned it in the USSR because it satirised his leadership.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is much more blunt than Animal Farm, leaving behind the allegory of animals, and using actual human characters to illustrate what the world will look like without freedom. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, everyone is watched by the dictator, Big Brother. It is an extreme version of CCTV, where you can't even pick your nose without someone knowing about it. Even your thoughts aren't safe. Anyone who thinks for themselves, or disagrees with the status quo in the slightest way mysteriously disappears. No one dares question the disappearance, or they too will cease to exist.

The idea that everyone is being watched and censored is even more poignant today, when we have the world of social media. With Facebook, Twitter, etc, people are sharing the most mundane activities of their daily lives with the entire world. Nothing is private anymore. Even things set to private get hacked into and distributed without permission. Then there are countries that ban or strict the use of social media, and monitor what their citizens do online. I still find it hard to believe that something as disturbingly intrusive as this, has even been turned into a form of entertainment with the Big Brother reality TV show.

What is ironic, is that Nineteen Eighty-Four was banned in Communist countries by Stalin, but in the 1960s was almost banned in America for being 'pro-communist'. This is probably through ignorance of the difference between Socialism (which Orwell supported) and Communism.

The fact that books such as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four get banned only reinforces the lack of freedom people have, and goes a step towards proving the truth of Orwell's words. For if Orwell was merely writing fiction, governments would not be so scared about it being read. I mean, it's only fiction, right?


253530 - 2023-07-19 07:46:29


Copyright 2022 OatLabs ABN 18113479226