Posts Tagged With: Communism

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

This is a very interesting book, which inspires the reader into thinking about the subjects talked about. It is less a novel than a collection of essays, which use four main characters – the womanising Tomas, his devoted wife Tereza, his mistress Sabina and her lover Franz – to illustrate the points made. 

The reader is often reminded that these are not characters to believe in – more, they are devices necessary to explain the author’s writings. This may put off some readers, and it is certainly unusual; for that reason maybe I found it hard to engage with the characters. 

The book questions the point of life; of ‘being’, and asks such questions as, if we have this life and no other, is there any point to this life – and if we do indeed have future lives (i.e., reincarnation) where we continue to make the same mistakes and follow the same paths as we followed in our first life, again – is there any point to that life? We are also given to question the difference between love and sex, and how the two can co-exist apart from each other, yet within the same person. It also gives an interesting insight to life in the former Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime. 

All in all, an insightful and intelligent book – not always the easiest or lightest read, but worth investing the time in.

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Animal Farm by George Orwell

Date of Publication: 1946

Synopsis:
“When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals’ Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. ‘We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.’ While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it’s a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell’s view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy.” -Joyce Thompson

Review (may contain spoilers):
I picked this book up last night, and read it in one sitting. It was obvious that the story was a satire of Communism (all the animals call each other “Comrade”), and at times it was very funny in its ridiculousness. But there was a disturbing grain of truth throughout the book which can make the reader uncomfortable. Here is a revolution that starts from a common spirit of cooperation and a desire to make things better for the whole group. But when one group takes control, and uses lies and intimidation, or even murder, to keep that control, one is reminded sharply of oppressive governments around the world that are very real. The ending was definitely a slap in the face: as the “common” animals look on, they find that they cannot tell the difference between their pig leaders, who now go on two legs, and the evil humans they had overthrown. This story is incredibly funny, sad, and scary all at the same time, and it amazes me that Orwell had the foresight to write it back in 1946, just after the Iron Curtain had fallen.

Ratings: 10/10
Reviewed by Sarah

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