And now we have reached it. The only book I hate more than Frankenstein. I just heard the collective intake of breath from around the world because the truth is I have never hated a book more than Nineteen Eight Four.
Let me explain for I know this is an incredibly controversial opinion. I was forced to read Nineteen Eight Four at the age of 12 in school. Now my reading ability was such that I could mechanically process the progression of the words but what on earth did my teacher expect me to take from such an important political book at such a young age? How was I supposed to empathises with a middle aged man with varicose veins? Forced is the only word I can use to describe my experience reading this book. It got to the point where I literally threw it across the room in frustration and my mum sat me down and read it aloud to me because I couldn’t bear it any more. I have never cared less about a character.
*Enormous spoiler coming up. HUGE SPOILER*
So I trudge my way through this book, barely tolerating Winston, and finally he is taken by the thought police. For the first time I am mildly curious about what is going to happen. Will he escape? Will there be a revolution? Will he find out the truth?
GGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. No no of course not. It turns out after all this time, after all the stupid little acts of rebellion, after having to put up with this git for several weeks of my life, HE LOVES BIG BROTHER. WHAT WAS THE F***ING POINT??? WHY DID I WASTE MY LIFE READING THIS SH*TTY BOOK FOR IT ALL TO BE FOR NOTHING??? I can’t tell you how angry I was. “Why bother?” I thought “What was the point in trying to resist when it was futile all along?”.
And that is where I totally missed the point because I was too young to read this book. And now with hindsight I am angry that this classic of English literature has been ruined for me, for I can only think of it with frustration. Had I read it when I could understand that literature is not just about the story you tell but about the statement you make, my opinion would be completely different and I am sure I would be singing its praises here rather than explaining myself. But as it stands I know I will never be able to enjoy Nineteen Eight Four, never be able to appreciate the courage it took to write because I can never forgot the way it made me feel the first time I read it.