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All Books Are Equal But Some Books Are More Equal Than Others

September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week: My thoughts on my favorite dystopian novel.

Once upon a time, I was a junior in high school.

My main memory from that year is sitting in class, discussing Orwell.

I said something to the effect of, “well, in terms of historical reference, on a time line, 1984 is part two to Animal Farm”.

My teacher nodded but a classmate said, “Um, no, Animal Farm is about animals.”

Oh, well, ok then!

So why bring this up over a decade later? Well, in looking at the list of banned books and the fabulous reasons why they have been banned, burned and challenged, I find that, often, the whole point of the book in so many of these cases is completely misinterpreted.

As in this case, I feel like many books like Orwell’s Animal Farm, are accused of promoting the very things they are poking fun at. As a social democrat, Orwell purposely dragged Stalin’s rendition of Communism through the mud in his fabled farm tale. He was, for all intents and purposes, bashing the state of communism at the time, both in Russia and in Spain. The line “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” clearly satirizes his view on human nature’s inability to truly embrace the utopic ideal of a society run on equality and goodwill.

Like so many other banned books taken off of the shelves based on promotion of larger ideals (not just a line or two with a bad word), I feel that irony is in play. Is it that I am missing the point or is it that people who ban books are inherently unaware of satire?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2011 11:08 am

    I kind of agree with you. I think that people that want to ban books are not only unaware of satire and irony, but are also humorless and small-minded. Taking away the freedom to read what we choose is taking away a freedom, and I have big problems with that. I think the point you made today was made with eloquence and elegance, and it made me think.

  2. September 26, 2011 10:29 pm

    I misread your post and thought your TEACHER said “Animal Farm is about animals.” and was obsessed for a little about what a bad teacher you had. Then I reread it and realized it was a fellow student.

  3. September 27, 2011 1:04 am

    I think you hit the nail on the head. I totally agree! People really can be idiots…

  4. September 27, 2011 2:24 am

    Great title for this post. I agree with you also – sometimes people just can’t accept satire because they take everything so literally that they end up becoming offended by everything…

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