A Hanging by George Orwell: A Book Review

a-hanging-george-orwell-nThis is a perfect combination with Shooting an Elephant ( by the same author ) in one book . The feelings both convey in the sentences could bring about nuclear fission. (laughs) I would , for sure, give it 5 stars .

Just the kidding aside. This is a perfect essay for the perpetual global issue now : imposing capital punishments on prisoners or captives. One of the punishments that has still been being  practiced is hanging. Recently, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was reported to have hanged few Egyptian Christians in light of their ideologies. In fact, it is sad to say that not only  does  such group embrace this kind of blood-curdling punishment , but also 58 countries still do. Twenty three of these countries have executed 527 people. To put it bluntly, most of the countries that still embrace death penalty are  China, the United States, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Yemen, Indonesia, and Iraq.*They uphold death penalty laws for some reasons. On the contrary, whatever argumentative reasons these countries have, in my humble opinion, I am absolutely against DEATH PENALTY, not that it is unconstitutional in our country, not that our country is a religious country, not that we are crime-free. In effect, we have floats of crocodiles in kind unless we were still living in a dark era when people were still intellectually and morally immature to kill one another, weren’t we? If we are in reality at the present time, DEATH PENALTY is applicable when we are all in danger to get annihilated. Tsk tsk tsk Orwell was right: There is such an evil.

Upon reading this essay, there are lines that dwelt upon me:

“It is curious, but till that moment I had never realised what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we are alive. All the organs of his body were working – bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.”

Gee, this part makes my flesh creep! A message coming from the other planet.

This essay sounds journalistic “in a sense “ ( now infected by Orwell’s favorite word in his essays ) that Orwell had witnessed different kinds of state wars. His description about the prisoners, the miserably sordid camp, the hanging place, the dog, the atmosphere- they are one in a picture in my mind.

As I reviewed his essay Shooting an Elephant ( 4 stars ), Orwell’s writing styles are sooo impressive. I really liked it despite its ending is ridiculous. I am now getting more familiar with his trademark.

*http://www.criminaljusticedegreesguid…

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

Animal Farm by George Orwell: A Book Review

animalfarm

The Seven Commandments:
Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

I was always intrigued by this book. It is on the list of the The Guardian’s 1001 Best Novels of All Time, TIME’s 100 Best Novels, The Modern Library’s Voting List. This is even part of my students’ literary studies. I could not even avert my gaze from its literary fame on bookshelves at bookstores. In the end, I tried to borrow it from my co-teacher-although it is my number one rule that I should never, never borrow from anyone’s, over my dead body. The book, after all, may be about Stalin-ism. Besides, it is easy to read, for George Orwell used simple standard form of language. However, if Orwell intended to write a satirical fable -although the preface insisted it is not- I did not feel the connection between the animals involved and the people.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

George Orwell’s intention to express his political viewpoints in writing a story involving animals- anthropomorphism in literature- is an astounding idea. I guess writing was his means of freedom of expression and speech. I guess his time , since he is a British writer , may have been restricted by the atmosphere of imperialism. In the light of writing this, isn’t it amazing to praise that it had a clashing impact upon his ( Orwell) targets? It was like as if I were the target being alluded to or insulted. No doubt this book is well received by readers and considered as a literary classic. Like reading Aesop’s fables or fantasies , his sentences are so light but very dashing though.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

On the other hand, although I enjoyed the story , I cannot deny the fact that I had a hard time connecting the unimaginable with the imaginable- animals living apart from humans, granted that the Animal Farm may be a symbol of dystopiac Stalin era whereas humans are the universal standard of government (democracy ). Well, my reactions could be another puny, minor impact of this book.

“Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”

-Animal Farm, George Orwell-

Politically speaking, I believe there is no such a perfect form of government. But if a form of government just what the like of Communism manifested in the history , this is one of the revolutionary books which could open the eyes of the peoples.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell: A Book Review

orwellI have read some autobiographical essays, just the like of my favorite ones by Richard Rodriguez, considered as one of America’s best essayists. But this one by George Orwell , is, for me, more remarkable in comparison . I was impressed. I liked it : simple but transparent, plainspoken, and persuasively natural. I would say that this is the kind of writing styles I would like to imitate.

George Orwell wrote about his anecdotal experience as a military policeman in Burma ( Myanmar now ) under the British government. He stated his difficult adjustment in a country where the atmosphere was emotionally suppressing because of the atrocious social classification at that time. His mettle was tested when he was expected to shoot an elephant considered by some at that time as a pain in the neck. So he would be in bind whether he had to kill or save the elephant.

Despite that it is considered to be an autobiographical essay, reading it is like  a short story; it is absorbing. I liked the fact the narrator, probably Orwell himself, describes his experiences in simply artistic structures of the sentences ; consequently, I got absorbed in a tell-tale. As a matter of fact, I was carried out by the sequences. When the story ended, I felt like one of the spectators watched him kill the elephant and was relieved. But the truth I could be part of Orwell’s other side of self: leaving the scene in agony.

Behind its anecdotal façade, there is something metaphorical about the essay. It has something to do with Britain’s imperialism and its effect in Burma. In fact, in this essay, Orwell clearly states his displeasure with colonial Britain.

I have not read other Orwell’s novels yet, except The Animal Farm ( 3 stars ). This is my first time to have read one of his essays.

I have learned a lot from Orwell’s writing styles. First, I liked the way he writes. I have tried to imitate other writers’ writing styles, but reading this one gave me the epiphany that I do not need to sound intellectual: I can write a simple essay but naturally moving. Second, writing is an instrument for making a big difference to social issues. Besides, we do not need to wish that we were genius. I believe we can learn how to write skillfully. It is a matter of practice and effort at will.

Rating: 4/  5 stars