Sometimes I think that school texts are wasted on the young.
I remember that many years ago, I read 1984 and Animal Farm which were high school texts and their meaning was totally lost on me. I guess as a young teen, I had other things on my mind that were much closer to home such as dealing with puberty, finding a place to fit in with different cliques at school and dealing with my parents. They were far more important than reading about dystopic societies. In some way, I had to grow up, experience life a bit in order for me to understand the texts that we were reading.
When I started to re-read them many years later, there was a whole different meaning to them and in some way, I felt they spoke to me and the society we are living today. George Orwell is a highly readable author as he writes from a place of empathy and at times, humour. As if he can see the absurd in the world and reflect it back to us where we understand exactly what he’s talking about because it still applies today. So in some ways, even though he wrote earlier in the 20th century, lots of what he writes – and his quotes are timeless.
If you want to see why Orwell matters in this day and age, I recommend you watch this superb presentation by Christopher Hitchens to the Commonwealth Club.
Recently, I bought a whole heap of his books so that I can have an Orwell collection on my shelves. They are books that I will read more than once. I have given other books to friends and family to read (so I hope I get them back!).
If you haven’t read Orwell, I strongly recommend it.
Here is my latest book review on Coming Up for Air.