Sometimes books from the past can help us decipher current events. This is the case of 1984, the ninth novel by the great English writer George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950). The “Big Brother” that scrutinizes every movement of citizens, the “Single Party” that afflicts the democratic dialectic, the “neo-language” that censors unwelcome words, the “psycho-religion” that strikes non-aligned opinions: there are several elements from Orwell’s imagination that many consider sinisterly relevant.
Orwell “offensive and shocking”
Well, the University of Northampton, in Great Britain, has decided not exactly to censor, but to “discourage” the reading of1984 to its students. The newspaper gives news of it in the Daily Mail . The reason? The novel’s content would be potentially “offensive and disturbing” because it addresses “difficult issues related to violence, gender, sexuality, class, race, abuse, sexual abuse, political views, and offensive language.”
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen also spoke on the matter. “There is a certain irony that students are now being issued trigger warnings before reading 1984“, he explains. “Our college campuses are rapidly becoming dystopian Big Brother zones where neo-language is practiced to narrow the range of intellectual thought and censor those who do not conform to it.” He adds, “Too many of us–and nowhere is this more evident than in our universities–have freely given up our rights to conform instead to a homogeneous society governed by a progressive elite that ‘protects’ us from ideas it deems too extreme for our sensibilities.”
A difficult book?
The University, for its part, issued a statement justifying the alert to Orwell. The university defended itself by pointing out that “although it is not university policy, we may warn students about content related to violence, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and suicide” because “some texts may be difficult for some students.”
Rather, for some students, it is difficult to accept the cancel cultures that penetrate even university classrooms.