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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1984 in 1981.

This semester we have an intern, Jennifer, who is working in the Library Services division. Because I am all about inclusion, I asked Jennifer to write a short blog post about her favorite banned book while she was here yesterday. Here's what she wrote:

George Orwell's 1984 was challenged in 1981 by Jackson County, Florida, because it was "pro-commmunist and contained explicit sexual matter" (p. 69).

The book, published in 1949, is set in a future anti-utopian world. The main character Winston Smith has to watch his every action and word to not anger Big Brother in the totalitarian society. Everyone dreads Room 101, since all who enter never come back out. The place is surrounded by screens and microphones in order for Big Brother to watch and listen to everyone. The news media, NEWSPEAK, is part of Big Brother and influences people to not think for themselves. Winston tries his best to avoid being caught by the Thought Police; however, he commits thoughtcrime and is forced in to Room 101.

I read the book in eleventh grade, and honestly, I barely remember the sexually explicit content. Orwell's themes are so strong, the book continuously has you thinking about them rather than focusing on the sexual matter. And believe me, the furthur you read, the more the beginning makes sense, but in the end you are still thinking of the themes and how they relate to current day matters. Also, throughout the book, you may think of "what-ifs" for your society. With that being said, if you suffer from paranoia, I don't recommend this book.

I do not believe the book is pro-communist, but more of a warning to watch out for social organizations (not necessarily a type of government) seeking to gain full control. Also, with NEWSPEAK, Orwell gives warning to not believe everything you see and hear in the media.

So if you're wondering if Winston is able to escape Room 101, head to your local library and check this book out.

Doyle, Robert P. Banned Books: 2000 Resource Book. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

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