Just in case you’ve never heard of this book before (you barbarian), a few quick facts: Eric Arthur Blair, under the name of George Orwell, wrote it in the late 1940s. He died shortly after publishing it. He wrote a few other novels during his life, but none so famous as Animal Farm, which preceded Nineteen Eighty-Four and is about a bunch of farm animals who rebel against their master and start running the farm for themselves but is actually a satirical allegory of the rise of communism in post-revolutionary Russia.
Both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four carry the same message: they want to warn us of the danger of not thinking for ourselves and giving too much power to those who govern over us. According to Wikipedia these two books together have sold more copies than any two books by any other twentieth-century author.
Most people in the English-speaking world are forced at one time or another to read Animal Farm during high school (I can recite significant portions of Animal Farm from memory – occupational hazard of being an English teacher), which is a shame, really, as they end up hating what is really a delightful little novella. On the other hand, for some reason people think there’s something wrong with them if they have not yet read Nineteen Eighty-four, or at least, that’s the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that it’s the book most people have lied about having read.
If you haven’t read either of these, but are planning to still do so and don’t want me to spoil it, you might want to stop reading about here. If you’re not planning to read them, read on – at least next time you lie about having read it you’ll sound a bit more informed 😉