Happy birthday to Nineteen Eighty-Four, published on this day, 8 June in 1949. Oftentimes in my opinion these famous novels English teachers like are big fat pieces of crap. This one is brilliant and terrifying, and my problem with it is that English teachers don’t like it enough. When I was a kid, we read Animal Farm in class instead; that way you got to bag on Russia and feel all superior as an enlightened American — look at the silly pigs!!! Look at ’em!!! They’re so silly!!! Nineteen Eighty-Four, on the other hand, was apparently not nearly as important to read as Jane fucking Eyre and Johnny Tremain. Orwell wrote “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it,” and in my day educators in the US just didn’t like the word socialism, however democratic it may be. Now, I’m not even sure people know what the word means, other than, supposedly, “Hillary Clinton.”
I have no idea if kids read this book today, but reading it in today’s political environment may and should induce panic attacks. Happy Birthday, and see you in Hell.