For as long as we have been granted freedoms, there have been people fighting to take those freedoms away; this is the most human of cycles. There has never been (and will likely never be, at least not right now) a time when people haven’t had to stand up against the systemic and societal oppression they’ve been forced to deal with everyday.
We’ve been warned about what can happen when we allow ourselves to stop caring about the state of the world and the other people inhabiting it by authors since the beginning of time; the entire dystopian genre is centered around it. So, don’t allow yourself to grow sedentary but also don’t grow too fearful; for as many greedy, selfish, oppressive, bad figureheads there are in existence, there are way, way more of us who really do care and move with empathy while fighting for a world of genuine equality.
So, take a look at these thirteen quotes from dystopian novels and give yourself that extra push you may need to keep marching forward!
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“Every faction conditions it’s members to think and act a certain way. And most people do it. For most people, it’s not hard to learn, to find a pattern of thought that works and stay that way. But our minds move in a dozen different directions. We can’t be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can’t be controlled. And it means that, no matter what they do, we will always cause trouble for them.” Veronica Roth, Divergent
“Did you ever feel, as though you had something inside you that was only waiting for you to give it a chance to come out? Some sort of extra power that you aren’t using – you know, like all the water that goes down the falls instead of through the turbines?” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” George Orwell, 1984
“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.” Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
“Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.” Lois Lowry, The Giver
“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.” Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” David Mitchell,Cloud Atlas
“Tell freedom I said hello.” Lauren DeStefano, Wither
“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
“I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running, not staying, but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.” Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave
The act of banning books, and deciding what people can and cannot read, is one of the oldest acts of censorship in existence; as long as we’ve had books, we’ve had people in power trying to prevent us from reading them.
The ironic thing about banning books, however, is that it usually has an adverse effect, making the books much more popular and well-known than they may have been had no one tried banning them in the first place. The books that are banned are usually the ones that urge readers to question the norm, rebel against injustice, and always stand strong; many of the most beloved pieces of literature were banned at one point or another.
But, despite their best efforts, no one can ever get in the way of people reading the books they want to read. These seven banned-books-turned-popular-adaptations prove that and so much more.
The popular dystopian novel depicting a future in which reading is illegal and all books are burned was banned between the years 2000-2009 due to the burning of the Bible that takes place within the story.
This classic novel detailing the fight for power between a man who’s been sent to a mental institution and the dictatorship of the hospital staff has been banned in schools off and on since it’s publication in 1962 for it’s “glorification of crime” and “pornographic language”.
The popular adaptation starring Jack Nicholson was released November 19th, 1975.
The famed Margaret Atwood novel detailing a future in which women are forced to bear children for elite couples in an America that has been overrun by a Christian, totalitarian government has been banned throughout schools since it’s 1985 release for it’s “graphic, sexual language” and “sacrilegious themes”.
This fantastical story of a young girl as she braves a dangerous journey of good versus evil in a mystical universe has faced controversy it’s 1962 release date due to descriptions of magic and “anti-Christian values”.
The film adaptation starring Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and more was released February 26th, 2018.
This dystopian story detailing a world in which Big Brother is always watching, individualism is nonexistent, and everything is against the law has faced criticism since it’s 1949 release date due to it’s heavy political themes and sexual content.
The film adaptation was released December 14th, 1984.
This controversial novel describing the love affair between antagonist Humber Humbert and his adolescent step-daughter, Lolita, has been banned across the board since it’s 1955 publication for it’s “graphic sexual language” and “inapproriate and disturbing scenarios between an adult man and a young girl”.
The Stanley Kubrick adaptation was released June 13th, 1962.
This tragically heartbreaking novel describing the friendship between two twelve-year-olds who create a fantastic, imaginary world has been banned since it’s release in 1977 for it’s themes of witchcraft, atheism, and it’s “inappropriate language.”
The popular film adaptation starring Josh Hutcherson was released February 16th, 2007.
Did you know HBO is adapting Ray Bradbury’s infamous 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451? If you didn’t know, now you do, and if you did, that’s cool. Turns out, to make the adaptation, the production team had to burn some books. Several hundred, actually.
“Sadly, we had to burn several hundred books,” said Ramin Bahrani, writer, director, and executive producer of the made-for-TV film. “They were real books; there was no way around [burning them]. We had to do it for the film.”
Bahrani, an Iranian-American, put a lot of thought into the scenes where Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon burn books to censor information from the American public. “I grew up speaking and reading Persian before English, and I think a lot of people read and speak various languages,” he said. “We live in a world where people are intersecting language and cultures on a daily basis. If the firemen control things, they should control everything — not just books written by American men in English.”
According to the director, the most difficult part of the burning scenes wasn’t the selection of books or the pyrotechnics – it was the book covers. Bahrani says:
We had to design the covers for a lot of the books ourselves. That became a bizarre problem in pre-production. “We could get the rights to the books to burn them, but we could not get the rights to most of the covers, because they were very complex: There was an artist, there was a graphic designer, there was a typographer. Tracking all these things down proved impossible. It was an unexpected challenge because we were so busy, we ended up having to hire two new designers for the art department just so that they could focus on making all these books.
Some of the books shown include Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. In HBO’s adaptation, the firemen of the militaristic police state also burn music and computer servers. They limit access to all information, not just written word, a departure from the original storyline, however the inclusion of alternate sources of information makes the story more relevant for today.
“I thought it would be a chance to modernize and re-imagine it for a world that includes the Internet and technology,” said Bahrani. “Because if I came to your home and burned all your physical books, I’m sure you would not be happy about it, but you could just download them again from the cloud.”
Despite my mouth dropping open, aghast, when I initially found out about the burning books, it seems as if the production tried to go about this as respectfully as possible.
“Oddly, Bradbury [writes in ‘Fahrenheit 451’] about pages burning in a hypnotic or seductive way, how they curl up on each other,” says Bahrani. “But the only time this actually happened [during filming] was actually [Bradbury’s] ‘The Martian Chronicles.’ We were shooting a close-up of it burning and the page kept curling up, one page after the other. And it kept curling up by chance on the name ‘Bradbury’ over and over again, so we were filming his name burning one after another. It seemed like a good omen somehow, that he was watching over the shoot.”
Check out the teaser trailer for HBO’s adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 below!