Before Collins or Roth, There Was Orwell

Written by Ian Kimbell

With book series like The Hunger Games and Divergent being successful, with oodles of merchandise, movies (or upcoming movies), and millions of copies sold worldwide, one may get the impression that dystopian novels are all the rage these days. Although dystopian-type novels are very popular nowadays, there was an author who wrote about corrupted governments a long time before Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth began writing. This man was named Eric Arthur Blair. You may know him better by his pseudonym of George Orwell.

If you are an eighth grader, then you may have read one of his books, called Animal Farm. Don’t let the title mislead you, because this novel deals with much more than just a farm. It has not-so-hidden messages about political corruption, communism, and segregation. It is considered a fairy tale for adults due to its story of talking animals but messages about government. Animal Farm is a short story, clocking in at about 130 pages, but it conveys many important messages about leadership. Animal Farm is shorter than 75% of all books, so it is a very short read. However, if you really want a dystopian novel, you may want to read a book by George Orwell called 1984.

Although it is considered a classic, 1984 will grab the interest of young and old readers alike. It follows a man named Winston who lives in a place called Oceania, previously called Britain and France, in or around 1984. The government is corrupted by a group called the “Party”, and led by an all powerful figure named Big Brother. Not only are the citizens constantly watched by the government and denied basic freedoms such as freedom of speech and the press, but are also denied freedom of thought. A group called the Thought Police makes sure everyone is thinking exactly what the government wants them to think. Newspaper articles are changed to twist the minds of citizens and citizens are forced to be in approval and admire Big Brother. Rations are low, people are poor, the government lies to the people and forces the people to lie to themselves. The government controls what citizens think happened in the past, present, and future.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”-George Orwell

George Orwell was ahead of his time, with his satirical dystopian themes. Animal Farm and 1984 are both based on political events. Animal Farm being based on Stalinist Russia and 1984 was based on Orwell’s view of the politically corrupt world we were becoming. Although Orwell’s books are classics, they are by no means the slow moving, Old English classics meant only for the purpose of book reports. Orwell’s dystopian novels have stayed popular this long because of being interesting, satirical, and occasionally comedic. Although they were based on times long before 2014, they are as relevant as ever in today’s world.