But the one that I felt most ashamed of was George Orwell. I had never read a book by George Orwell. Somehow I missed 1984 in high school when it seemed like every other English class was reading it.
But with just a few days left till graduation, I finally finished 1984 yesterday! So I can accept my diploma without shame (because who really cares about Tolstoy or Eudora Welty!) :)
Orwell obviously has some interesting ideas about society (looking at the governments' role in society, freedom vs. control, etc.). There's a reason this book is so often taught in schools and why the term "Big Brother" became such a well-known part of the English lexicon. Keeping citizens under complete surveillance, building a society based on hate, the need for constant warfare, the ability to erase and manipulate history (and thus manipulate people's memories) . . . So many great, thought-provoking ideas!
Unfortunately, I don't think the rest of the novel really lives up to Orwell's premise. The characters are not very thoroughly described, so I didn't feel much of a connection to their actions and goals. The plot is not very well-paced (the first 100 pages are boring set-up, the middle contains a huge chunk of text from a book a character is reading, etc.). By the end, I didn't even care what happened to Winston.
I also wasn't sure I completely understood the society (Would the government really not care about controlling the proles because they think they're stupid? They're 85% of the population!).
Still a really interesting idea. I think I prefer Brave New World though.
Have you read 1984? Did you like it? Is Animal Farm better?
AUTHOR: George Orwell
PUBLICATION DATE: 8 June 1949
VERDICT: 3/5 stars.