You may have had a major blonde moment in a crowd of pretentious, literary folk or you may have had a sudden realization that you’re quite unversed when it comes to Literature's Finest. Either way, acquainting yourself with the underlying principles of these novels will contribute to your understanding of the word, will make you a more well-rounded individual and help you put those stuck up, highbrow folks back into their place.
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
“When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”
“A Clockwork Orange” is set in a dystopian England based in the future. The protagonist, Alex, is an "ultraviolent" teenager who is the leader of a gang of “droogs”– an aggressive bunch of disciples who aid him in brutal acts of violence and debauchery, including rape.
Alex is framed by his friend Dim and is sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. He agrees to be the first person to try the experimental therapy “Ludovico’s Technique” in exchange for a reduced sentence. This associative therapy involves intense brainwashing, which causes Alex to associate violence with nausea and headaches.
After being set free, Alex is back on the streets but is now vulnerable to his once friends, the droogs, who are out to get him. They beat him brutally, leaving him in the rain. Alex helplessly walks around until knocking on the door of a nearby cottage, begging to be taken in. The resident of the house, F. Alexander takes him in. Alex realizes that he raped this man’s wife and learns that she died due to mental trauma of the rape.
Once, F. Alexander realizes that this is the very man who raped his wife; he and his colleagues lock Alex in an apartment and play loud classical music so that he commits suicide. Alex jumps out of an attic window but survives. State doctors undo Ludovico’s Technique, restoring Alex’s former vicious self. He has another gang of followers but he is now sick and tired of the violence and wants to lead a regular life like his friend Pete.
1984 - George Orwell
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
Following World War II, the world is separated into three states. The city London belongs to fictitious despotic Oceania, spearheaded by a party who has absolute power over its people. Its citizens are always under the gaze of illusive “Big Brother” and must be careful not to commit "thoughtcrime" or enjoy having sex. Winston Smith is a public servant at the Ministry of Truth, in charge of rewriting history. He is covertly discontented with the system and its constant gaze “Big Brother is Watching You”. He falls in love with brunette Julia fellow worker at the Ministry who is also secretly dissatisfied with the system. They rebel against the system by falling in love and naively attempt to escape Big Brother's omniscience.
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
“I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
The narrator, “Invisible Man”, is an ambitious young black man who is disillusioned by the brutal realization that racism is present everywhere, particularly in organizations like “Brotherhood” which he feels betrayed by. He has a series of epiphanies and enlightening realizations that he decides to chronicle as he hibernates in an underground hideout.In the solitude of the manhole, he begins to perceive himself- both his invisibility and his identity. The entire book is based on these chronicles. At the end, The Invisible Man vows to enter the world again.
Animal Farm – George Orwell
“There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word-- Man”
Mr. Jones, farmer on “Manor Farm” is a drunken and unkind tyrant, who is driven out by the displeased animals who have had enough of him. The animals collectively devise a government of their own. They all vow to practice equity whereby “all animals are equal” however with the progression of time, the system become analogous to the repressive and totalitarian ways of Mr. Jones.Their motto is revised to “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others." They essentially escaped totalitarianism of man only to only to fall into a more brutal totalitarianism among themselves.
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
Atlas Shrugged is considered one of Ayn Rand’s greatest literary works.
The story is told primarily from the viewpoint of Dagny; an attractive, a matchless, competent alpha female who is chief of operations for the country’s largest railroad- Taggart Transcontinental. The story is largely based on Dagny's pursuit to comprehend the source of the apparently enigmatic collapse of her railroad. The novel concurrently showcases Dagny’s determined and almost insane compulsion to meet two people: the mastermind who created an abandoned motor who’s design could have changed the world; and a mystifying person who, like some wicked individual who, she believes, is "draining the brains of the world."