George Orwell Matters! discussion

George Orwell
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message 1: by Liz (new)

Liz | 1 comments Hi all,

Not a lot of activity here for awhile, so I thought I'd post.

The first Orwell book I ever read was 1984 when I was 16 years old it made such an impact on my life. It shook me out of my youthful ignorance that you can trust the state because it has your best interest at heart and that if you are good and comply by the rules you will be rewarded. It made me stop and question and look deeply at the system of controls around us. He may have written many decades before my birth, but everything he wrote about is immortal, nothing changes. Where there are humans there is a system corrupt, violent, controlling and motivated by the agenda of a few. So started my love of Orwell and his work. Since then I have read "Animal Farm" (a piece of genius and my fav) "Down and out in London and Paris" and "Keep the Aspidistra flying" Every novel a piece of literary and intellectual genius, I've never been fanatic about people I don't know, but I'll make an exception for Orwell. I haven't read his other books yet because he had limited work and once I have read them there is no more, so I'm saving them a year at a time.....a little eccentric but who can replace him?

So how was everyone else introduced to Orwell?

message 2: by Micko (last edited May 10, 2013 06:13AM) (new)

Micko Lemur (shiftdecimal) In 10th Grade English we were given ANIMAL FARM to read.
At the time I was away from school with sickness so missed the discussions in class. Instead, I hired the movie from the library and in my naive 15-year old mind, it was a clever cartoon about power. About ten years later I read 1984, then AF again and understood. My favourite I think is KTAF, it truly stands out from the rest of his novels.

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul (starsarestars) | 2 comments Hi all,

This Group seems very quiet?!

My first Orwell book was The Road to Wigan Pier. The book probably had more impact on me than any I've read since possibly due to my age at the time (15/16) and was a book that posed questions in a way other books I had read didn't.

My favourite Orwell book is KTAF although Homage to Catalonia (and the first chapter in particular) just stunned and moved me too.

I would suggest that Orwell's influence - on other writers, musicians and campaigners - remains extensive. I constantly see nods to his work in other books and in music.

It was Orwell himself who said he wanted to make 'political writing into art' and his style of writing - where every word used is for a reason - remains a masterful example of making complex issues accessible.


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 05, 2014 06:53AM) (new)

Hi all,

I can't actually remember when I first read Orwell but I am sure it was when I was in my twenties and starting to form a political outlook in life. I have since read everything he wrote and often re read him just for the sheer pleasure of acquainting myself with an astute political mind and a great writer.

I think the reason I get so much out of Orwell is because he was able to analyse complex political situations in a clear and simple way. That is not to say that he belittled or trivialised events, but that he was able to see into the heart of the matter. How many people, for example, had such a grasp of the events of the Spanish Civil War as he did in 'Homage To Catalona'? He saw at once that events can be falsified and distorted to fit the underlying agenda of a political party, and would be ignored or rewritten by the media in order to uphold an established view of class and privilege.

For me, Orwell was one of the few writers who stood up to lies and humbug. He was not afraid to expose propaganda whenever he saw it, but was also modest enough to realise that it is the duty of all of us to root out hypocrisy whenever we experienced it within ourselves.

I think the main reason I like his books is because they usually depict ordinary people, often from working class backgrounds, who get caught up in events that are bigger than them, and often end up being destroyed by them. Gordon Comstrock, for example, in 'Keep The Aspidistra Flying" was a particular hero for me for trying to live an existence without money! How many writers today would have the courage to tackle a subject that exposes the tyranny of capitalism as he did?

I know I haven't answered the question of when I first read Orwell, but I am glad that he existed and gave us a voice of sanity in a world still not free from exploitation and oppression. The fight for freedom is a constant struggle, but Orwell was one of the greater beacons of sanity in a world that has no place for the everyman.

message 5: by Abanoub (new)

Abanoub Ibrahim | 1 comments 2013 i was 22 and by 1984 and animal farm he became one of my favorite of all time

message 6: by Adam (new)

Adam Bender (adambender) | 3 comments I'd read Animal Farm in school, but it wasn't until later that I picked up 1984 and Orwell really clicked with me. This was around the time of the Bush administration and the Patriot Act, and so everything in 1984 just felt so relevant. And the amazing thing is that this novel continues to feel relevant in 2016. It speaks to Orwell's greatness that a book he wrote about the future but named for a year now 32 years in the past can still feel so current.

message 7: by Oliver (new)

Oliver Eastwood | 1 comments I read 1984 when I was 13, and then read Animal Farm when I was 14 in my Year 9 English class. We also watched the film, which I though was very disturbing, but there you go. I loved Animal Farm because when you read it, you were constantly discovering this hidden symbology. And the movie was great too.

message 8: by David (new)

David I read Animal Farm at school when I was about 14, and Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1984, roughly a year later. Much as I enjoyed them, I didn't really become a fan until 1992, when I was sharing a flat in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and working as a cub reporter. One of my flatmates, a teacher, lent me the Collected Essays, thinking I'd appreciate Why I Write in particular. He was correct, and I haven't looked back. For two years now I've been a member of the Orwell Society, which I'd thoroughly recommend. A highlight was the organised trip to Jura last summer, visiting the house where he wrote his final masterpiece.

message 9: by Robert (new)

Robert Hutchinson | 1 comments I read 1984 a few years ago and was astounded by how good it is and also how relevant. I've since read Animal Farm, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Down and out in Paris and London and Coming up for Air. Can't wait to read more and the Bernard Crick biography. No other books that i have read mean so much and i'd love to visit the cottage on Jura also.

message 10: by Bionic Jean (last edited Aug 06, 2021 02:55AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) | 299 comments Mod
I first read 1984 in my twenties. I think I'd seen a TV dramatisation of it, thought it was brilliantly inventive Science Fiction and really enjoyed the book. Then Animal Farm of course, which must be one of the best short novels in the English language. The Road to Wigan Pier just about broke my heart - perhaps because my family comes from there - as did Down and Out in Paris and London.

I want to read more of his essays, and it constantly surprises me that when I mention George Orwell a glazed expression comes over people's faces. He's phenomenal - and continually relevant!

message 11: by Petra (new)

Petra | 56 comments Hi Jean!
I was first introduced to George Orwell in Grade 9, with Animal Farm. The teacher belaboured every word used, kept referring to revolutions I hadn't heard of and twaddling on about things I wasn't interested in. Sadly, this put me off of George Orwell's writings.
When I took a University English course and 1984 was in the curriculum, I was dismayed and grateful that it was a slim book. I LOVED it!!!! So much so, that I had to go back to revisit Animal Farm and I loved that one, too. Imagine my surprise. It must have been the teaching style of the teacher in Grade 9 English and not George Orwell's writing that I didn't like.

After that I went on quite a George Orwell reading period. I don't recall every book I read and would need to reread them all to have any kind of a decent discussion but his writing is wonderful in all his books.

message 12: by Laura Cort (new)

Laura Cort | 28 comments I also was introduced to Orwell in school through Animal Farm. We didn't do it in much detail so I am actually re-reading it now. But I loved 1984 so much. I love dystopian fiction but I found 1984 really engaging compared to other writers.

message 13: by br (last edited Aug 06, 2021 02:26PM) (new)

br (bluewizard_) I think mine rather funny. I was (and am) a big Pink Floyd fan, and I think their album Animals one of their greatest, if not their greatest achievement. Animals is a concept album, and an application of Animal Farm to the British capitalist society of 1977. It made me read the source material. One of the very few books I enjoyed back then. Have read it multiple times.

message 14: by Trisha (new)

Trisha | 9 comments I agree with Petra & Laura above - I also endured Animal Farm at school. At the time I thought it was dreadful. I’ve read it much more recently, as well as 1984 & want to read more of Orwell’s works. I look forward to sharing them with the group.

message 15: by Bionic Jean (last edited Aug 06, 2021 03:19PM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) | 299 comments Mod
It's such a shame that reading Animal Farm at school has spoiled the work for so many. Perhaps it's chosen because of its deceptive simplicity, but from what you say Petra, when it is badly taught, it can seem dry and almost irrelevant to a teenager without the background knowledge. Thank goodness that those here gave George Orwell another chance! I came to him a bit later, as I said.

bluewizard - that's a really quirky connection! And a fantastic way in, if I might say so :)

message 16: by Boadicea (new)

Boadicea (downwoodkt) | 11 comments I was a precocious reader and picked up "Animal Farm" well before my teens, but could not understand the symbolism one bit so DNF. "1984" came a little later, probably early teens but again my political nous was undeveloped and I didn't understand the references and symbolism of it all, though the macabre nature of its being stayed with me to this day. Definitely, needs a re-read with an adult's sensibility and knowledge of the world. I look forward to some discussion on this forum!

message 17: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (bibliohound) | 4 comments I read Animal Farm and Burmese Days in my teens, and loved both. However, at that age, I feel I only had a vague understanding of the political themes that Orwell had woven into the books, along the lines of “That’s not fair”. I found the writing and the stories appealing.

In later life I reread these and read more of his essays and non fiction. For some reason, I hadn’t read 1984 until a year or so ago, although I felt I already knew it well from the amount it appears in all kinds of popular culture.

message 18: by Kathleen (last edited Aug 07, 2021 06:54AM) (new)

Kathleen | 25 comments I too read Animal Farm in school, maybe 10th grade for me, but still I was nowhere near ready for it. I liked it well enough but like so many things I read in high school, missed the point. :-)

But my brother had a paperback of 1984. I still remember it.
1984 by George Orwell
It was worn out from him reading it many times. When I was in college and started to appreciate these things more, we talked about Orwell and he encouraged me to read more. I read 1984 then (before the actual year 1984). He had a way of helping me get started with an author by steering me to books he thought would suit me, and recommended Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and after that I was a complete fan.

message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom Weir | 54 comments Paul wrote: "Hi all,

This Group seems very quiet?!

My first Orwell book was The Road to Wigan Pier. The book probably had more impact on me than any I've read since possibly due to my age at the time (15/16..."

KTAF is also my personal fave. Brilliant book!

message 20: by Tom (new)

Tom Weir | 54 comments I first read 1984 when I was twenty. I saw a random man reading it on a flight to Hungary (Budapest) and I mentioned to the him that I'd heard it was a great book, that I'd love to read it one day. His eyes lit up.

He gave me his copy of 1984, saying he had another at home, as we were getting off the plane.

He told me that I would thoroughly enjoy it and that it was such a powerful novel and that everybody should read it.

I still have the book and I did thoroughly enjoy it. I've, since, read all of his books and have been completely hooked ever since that chance encounter on that flight!

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