Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review

This past weekend, while I was slowly enjoying the aisles of my local Borders bookstore, I happened upon this little treasure. At first, I saw it and continued walking. Yet, as I was just a single pace away from this book, it dawned on me just who exactly Beatrix Potter was. I stopped in my tracks and backtracked to the place where this treasure sat upon a the clearance section, even.

I was lucky enough to be able to purchase this journal of the pop-up version for only five dollars and some change. I didn't have the time to sit and read this short book until today. I was in for an adventure in being awed. This woman has an amazing story. I remember being a tiny little girl and reading her stories of Peter Rabbit. Upon finding this, my fiance told me he too remembered reading her books. We shared a definite moment of nostalgia.

I then began to explain to him that my Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter books had been left at my mom's house. After she died, I never even questioned whether she still had them. To this day, I still do not know if they were shipped off to the Salvation Army, and I am sad to realize I will never have my own Beatrix Potter books back. However, my fiance says his Beatrix Potter books still exist in his mom's upstairs "library." I cannot wait to see if they are truly still there. Until then, though, I am going to check Ebay possibly, or even Etsy, to see if anyone has some vintage copies they are wanting to be rid of. I hope someday my little ones, assuming I have some little ones someday, will enjoy these purely simple pleasures as much as I did.

Also today, I was able to read a little further in 1984. I have started reading this book after it was suggested by another author I am reading. Currently, I am very interested in writing a book of my own, though I haven't the slightest idea what genre I will write in or even what my book will be about. I picked up "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel" a few weeks ago, again at my local Borders bookstore. I have been reading that regularly, and he is teaching me a vast amount of knowledge I need to know about writing a novel, and I am finding it to be very rewarding as well. I have always loved to read, and as I grow and mature, I am finding myself to be more and more interested in the classics. It is a wonderful journey to be on.

Anyway, my point was to talk about two small sections I read in 1984 today, a futuristic political novel written by George Orwell just after World War II. The first line I would like to quote is speaking about the main character of the book whom in the first 25 pages of my book is experiencing mixed emotions about "Big Brother" and his desire for individuality, which has all been all but completely thwarted out of him by the government. I found this line to be so bold and it so deeply resonates with loneliness that I simply must share it with someone. Here it is: "He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster."

This line is so strong with emotion. George Orwell could have written simply that his main character "...felt as though he were wandering in the forests..." and still made a point that this character felt alone and even somewhat lost. What really blew me away was the sequence of words just after this phrase: "...of the sea bottom..." How often do you find yourself wandering in the forest alone? Now, as I assume you do not find yourself alone in the forest often, I must ask, how often do you find yourself wandering the forest at the bottom of the sea? I can't say I have ever found myself in such a predicament.

I can only imagine a forest at the bottom of a sea. It is dark. It is cold. You cannot see farther than inches in front of you. Long, slimy stalks of seaweed are swaying all around you, their tips reaching above your head. You are afraid to move, yet you are afraid of not moving. It is an unknown world all around you.

From there, I had to dissect the rest of the phrase: "...lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster." This main character, called Winston, is struggling very much emotionally with the burden of his thoughts. He is not allowed to voice his opinions without being secretly arrested and having his existence completely wiped away, so he is left to muddle through his thoughts all on his own. He feels as though he is in a world that is not his own. Have you ever experienced the eerie feeling that someone is watching you, stalking up behind you? I believe this might be how Winston is feeling at this moment. However, have you ever felt that pair of eyes staring you down, following your every move, were your own eyes? Winston knows something is lurking, and that lurking thing is himself. I feel very much foreshadowing in this line alone. I predict, and please don't tell me if you know, that Winston will soon not be able to keep his emotions and thoughts bottled up inside. He will eventually have to express his thoughts and opinions aloud.

Now, I know you are probably bored with reading at this point, but if you have stuck through, I do appreciate you valuing my opinion. There is only one other section I wanted to express my thoughts about. This one is a little longer, and it is on the mirroring page of the last phrase I dissected. It is just as profound, though. Again, here it is: "He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage."

Again, this theme of loneliness is obvious, but that is not the most profound part to me. Winston is finding some strange sort of peace in simply writing out his thoughts. This whole idea of writing his thoughts in a diary completely terrifies him, but he knows he must do it, even though it will certainly mean his death when it is discovered. At this point, I almost begin to doubt my previous prediction that Winston will eventually have to make his thoughts heard, but I still, at this point, feel as though this is a valid prediction. The peace Winston is finding in writing out his thoughts is this sanity he is speaking of. He believes, at this point, that he will not have to speak out against the government he lives under. He believes if he simply keeps himself sane, he can keep himself alive. If he speaks out, however, he will be "vaporized," wiped from the face of the earth as if he never existed at all. He will never have the chance to pass his views onto the next generation. No matter how impossible a task that seems to be, Winston still seems to have hope early in the game that he will get to pass his ideas onto the next generation. He still hopes for change.

Part of him knows this will most likely never come to pass, and I as the reader want to have hope for him. However, I don't see how he can possibly get past his overpowering meddling government.

I am certainly in for an interesting and quite thought-provoking read.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's two contrasting books. One about fluffy bunnies and one about a dark and sinister world - which will only get darker as the book continues.

    There have been a couple of film versions of 1984. I remember the one starring John Hurt as Winston being quite good.

    Alternatively you could watch Miss Potter, which is the story of Beatrix Potter starring Rene Zelwegger - not such a great film, but you might like it...