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30-Day Book Challenge – day 1: Favourite book

So, this post refers to this list, the so called 30-day book challenge where bloggers and book nerds for 30 days answers a question from the list per day. Today, I present my favourite book.

Quite a lot goes into the term ‘favourite’, but if I have to choose one then it is, without any hesitation, my favourite author George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Published in 1945, and read by me in 2008 in my very first year of the International Baccalaureate, it ruthlessly displayed human nature in its political sense through the shrewd use of farm animals chasing away their farmer in order to establish a new, equal farm society. However, soon the workings of humanity (rather ironically put in the form of animals) draws forth the same hierarchal order, and the triangle of power is just shifted to the one side, still with one corner of priviliged individuals at the top, timelessly put down by Orwell as ”All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

It is a novel that probes into and links human individualism and psychology and tribalism, dictatorship and history, and the helplessness of the individual in a society ruled by ‘the masses’, in which the large number not creates security but isolation and fear. It is a challenge by Orwell against Socialism, which he himself was a supporter and defender of (fought the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side against Francesco Franco’s rightists), and his criticism hence grows stronger.

Animal Farm tag cloud.

It is not a historical account, albeit a satirical description (loosely) of the power shifts in early Soviet Russia and the Stalin-Trotsky power struggle. It is even more impressing seen that Orwell wrote this without the benefit of long-term perspective. Although 1984 is considered by most people as Orwell’s chef d’oeuvre, Animal Farm was the first novel to influence me personally. It is more than the revolution description by which form it comes – it is the universal application of philosophy, ideology, psychology, and intrinsic human nature – overall the perfect show-don’t-tell metaphor of the inherent (?) failures of mankind to work towards a common good. It is absolutely the most significant novel I have read, it has influenced my view on society, my political views, and it got me going when it comes to thinking about life in a philosophical way because it was a novel I could grip at the age of 17.

It is not for nothing that I instinctively bought this book as my first French book – I wanted ‘my first’ to be special.

***

Close calls:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) – made me cry page after page, 
  • 1984 (Orwell) again, Orwell’s genius in dissecting society and human nature, 
  • The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien) – childhood favourite and first liaison between children’s books and the novel, 
  • Of Men and Mice (John Steinbeck) – the first novel to make me cry, age 15,
  • The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger) – who does not see ”phonies” all over the place?
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