Weeks 8 and 9: The Banned Books Black Market

Jun 01, 2020

Hello all! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been quite caught up in this Orwellian research, and the research papers for Animal Farm and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We are finalized and complete! The 1984 research essay is now in the making, and that should be up soon! I’m quite excited to present what I’ve found about these masterpieces!

Animal Farm Research: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iileV0Gr_rqRv00mXFYENSRRfvTatGhzTsTIEhp0Srg/edit?usp=sharing

We Research: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Oys5V1FSDa30x7H7_vmSLuLh6-l8n9liURN7CsZwo9E/edit?usp=sharing

Now, We, Animal Farm, and 1984. What do these novels all have in common? Many things actually. For starters, all three were banned in the Soviet Union for the same reason– being anti-Communist. Animal Farm criticizes Joseph Stalin, 1984 shows the horrors of a scaled-up totalitarian regime, and We paints a picture of a mechanized future. Two were written by Orwell, and the one that wasn’t–We written by Yevgeny Zamyatin– inspired an Orwellian work in the trio– in this case, 1984. All three novels were discouraged from being published for the reason that “Stalin wouldn’t like it.”

The point is that they all were written for the same reason– to start a movement. To cause disillusionment with the Soviet Union. Freedom of speech was absolutely violated by the Soviets, due to each of these novels being banned to censor feelings or political views against Stalin. Animal Farm literally calls Stalin out for murdering millions, and this gave hope to the Ukrainian refugees who Stalin starved to death. We discusses and criticizes the new mechanization at the turn of the 20th century, where individuality is lost in workers in factories. And 1984 shows a totalitarian regime where all one does is watched. In the research essays, I answer the following questions:


What is known about the author’s intention?

What difficulties did authors face when getting these novels published?

Were the reasons for banning moral or political and were these reasons based on misinterpretation?

Does reception change over time? Do reasons for censorship change over time?

Was the intention of the author misread by the public based on their reception?

What is the relationship between the writing style, content, and banning?


Most of these are answered based on my research so far. And for now, I’d like to get back to work and solve the samizdat mystery. Each of these books were published underground in samizdat form in different Soviet territories. I wonder if these were for political reasons, or did novels that were considered erotic like Lolita also have samizdat forms. I’m now writing my 1984 essay and tomorrow I plan to get cracking on the last two novels, the two novels on my list that… weren’t banned for political reasons: Lolita and The Catcher in the Rye, banned in opposing territories, one challenged by the United States but never censored. That’s a mystery to be solved for the next blog post. My last. Likely there’ll be another by Thursday when all the research is complete, and Friday will be the last blog. Thanks for tuning your dial my direction. See you all soon! This has been a great opportunity, and the final push is now upon me. See you all next time, Banned Bookites!



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