What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

19 January 2011


Caution: Spoilers ahead. (Although I'm not sure that you can call them "spoilers" for a book that's been out for 50 years.)

This book has been on my to-read list for years, and I finally moved it from "to-read" to "read". Since everyone talks about it so favourably, and since I read The Hunger Games trilogy and Matched all in the same week and really enjoyed them, I was looking forward to reading the grandfather of dystopia, 1984.

And I was disappointed.

I think it was the combination of the hype and of having met the grandchildren first, so to speak, but I was expecting an interesting story and instead got, as one reviewer on Goodreads.com expressed it, a book-length essay. I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters or what happened to them, which admittedly may be the point. I tried, but I didn't like them at all.

Having said that, I do still think it's an important book and would suggest that everyone read it (and I suppose that's why it's required reading in so many high schools). It's definitely a cautionary tale. The bit that I think is most relevant is rewriting the past, because that happens all the time-- we sanitize history when we teach it to children, and there are plenty of adults walking around who never hear the gritter version (hence all the nostalgia, I should think, for "the way things used to be"). Or, on an even more scary level, there is a serious push to deny that the Holocaust ever happened-- despite the concentration camps that are still standing, or the survivors who are still among us, there are those who don't believe that it happened and teach that it didn't. And we can't allow our history, however unpleasant and horrible, to be casually rewritten in this way.

So, I gave 1984 a C because I didn't like the story, and if asked I wouldn't recommend it as a nice book for the weekend. But I do say that it should be read. (And I'm counting this book toward Danielle's Classics Challenge, in case you want to join in!)

Have you read 1984? What did you think?


Carole Anne Carr said...

I read it in the fifties and it was fresh and forward looking. Bit old hat now, I'm afraid.

Su said...

That could be part of why I didn't enjoy it.

L'Aussie said...

Su, I'm sorry I didn't enjoy it. Most people don't really enjoy it as entertainment as we enjoy many less serious books, but many enjoy it because of its warnings and forward thinking. It is surprising how many societies it still refers to. It is especially good to teach - it is in the Year 12 course in Oz and I get to teach it every year. Students hate it at first but then start getting into it and appreciating its messages.

I just bought The Hunger Games. REad so many good reviews.

Cheers my dear


L'Aussie said...

Su, sorry I meant 'sorry you didn't enjoy it...'

Su said...

The messages were good, but after all the hype I've heard for years I was expecting a better story to be tucked in with the messages.