Author: George Orwell (i.e. Eric Arthur Blair) (1903-1950)
Challenge status: #9 on Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century and frequent target of banning attempts according to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Book #4 on Summer of Banned Books ’13.
Why: Well, when challenged in Florida in 1981 the reasons given were that the book was “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.”
First line: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
Synopsis: The foreboding classic view of a future that is now partially here: a totalitarian regime that effectively controls not only the behavior but the very thoughts and memories of it’s citizens. Winston Smith is not a loyal member of the party: he has questions and doubts that end up pulling him into a theoretical resistance movement and into the arms of a fellow disbeliever (his lover Julia), both from which he is eventually saved via an active re-education that takes place deep in his heart and within the Ministry of Love (Miniluv).
Thanks to Orwell we now have some amazing vocabulary (thoughtcrime, Big Brother, newspeak, doublethink, unpersons) and concepts (entertainment screens that broadcast while conducting surveillance, mini-helicopters and microphones hidden in plain sight – always collecting data, office workers who’s whole function is to “correct” the news to reflect the current truth, party practices destabilizing bonds between family members as a method of distributing policy enforcement, a government that creates tabloids, lotteries, and pornography to keep the proletariat subdued, armies that bomb their own citizens to further the image that the country is at war, politicians that expend all surplus resources as part of useless skirmishes to keep the populace hungry and angry – never really seeking to change balances-of-power between the primary competing nation-states).