|Sources||Persagen.com | Wikipedia | other sources (cited in situ)|
|Curator||Dr. Victoria A. Stuart, Ph.D.|
|Editorial practice||Refer here | Date format: yyyy-mm-dd|
|Summary||Books and articles for historical and cultural background and reflection on the current state of affairs and concerns.|
Charles Dickens, 1859, A Tale of Two Cities.
A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris, and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. In the Introduction to the Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction, critic Don D'Ammassa argues that it is an adventure novel because the protagonists are in constant danger of being imprisoned or killed.
As Dickens' best-known work of historical fiction, A Tale of Two Cities is claimed to be one of the best-selling novels of all time. In 2003, the novel was ranked 63rd on the BBC's The Big Read poll. The novel has been adapted for film, television, radio, and the stage, and has continued to influence popular culture.
Aldous Huxley, 1932, Brave New World.
Brave New World is a dystopian social science fiction novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in essay form, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962), the utopian counterpart. The novel is often compared to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (published 1949).
In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World at number 5 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, Robert McCrum, writing for The Observer, included Brave New World chronologically at number 53 in "the top 100 greatest novels of all time", and the novel was listed at number 87 on The Big Read survey by the BBC. Despite this, Brave New World has frequently been banned and challenged since its original publication. It has landed on the American Library Association list of top 100 banned and challenged books of the decade since the association began the list in 1990.
Ray Bradbury, 1953, Fahrenheit 451.
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury. Often regarded as one of his best works, the novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and "firemen" burn any that are found. The book's tagline explains the title as "the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns": the autoignition temperature of paper. The lead character, Guy Montag, is a fireman who becomes disillusioned with his role of censoring literature and destroying knowledge, eventually quitting his job and committing himself to the preservation of literary and cultural writings.
People have used this novel to focus on the historical role of book burning. Bradbury himself was inspired by the Nazi book burnings and by ideological repression in the Soviet Union. In a 1956 radio interview, Bradbury said that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns at the time, during the Second Red Scare, about the threat of book burning in the United States. In later years, he described the book as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature, and, in a 1994 interview, stated that the book was more relevant during this time than in any other because of political correctness which he described as "the real enemy these days", and as "thought control and freedom of speech control".
In 1954, Fahrenheit 451 won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal. It later won the Prometheus "Hall of Fame" Award in 1984 and a "Retro" Hugo Award in 2004. Bradbury was honored with a Spoken Word Grammy nomination for his 1976 audiobook version. Adaptations of the novel include François Truffaut's 1966 film, Ramin Bahrani's 2018 film, and two BBC Radio dramatizations. Bradbury published a stage play version in 1979 and helped develop a 1984 interactive fiction computer game of the same name, as well as a collection of his short stories titled A Pleasure to Burn.
George Orwell, 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Nineteen Eighty-Four (also stylised as 1984) is a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale written by the English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime. Thematically, it centres on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society. Orwell, a democratic socialist, modelled the totalitarian government in the novel after Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within politics and the ways in which they are manipulated.
The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda. Great Britain, known as Airstrip One, has become a province of the totalitarian superstate Oceania, ruled by the Party, who employ the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking. Big Brother, the dictatorial leader of Oceania, enjoys an intense cult of personality, manufactured by the party's excessive brainwashing techniques. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a diligent and skillful rank-and-file worker at the Ministry of Truth and Outer Party member who secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion. He expresses his dissent by writing in a diary and later enters into a forbidden relationship with his colleague Julia and starts to remember what life was like before the Party came to power.
Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a classic literary example of political and dystopian fiction. It also popularised the term "Orwellian" as an adjective, with many terms used in the novel entering common usage, including "Big Brother", "doublethink", "Thought Police", "thoughtcrime", "Newspeak", and "2 + 2 = 5". Parallels have been drawn between the novel's subject matter and real life instances of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and violations of freedom of expression among other themes. Time included the novel on its list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005, and it was placed on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list, reaching number 13 on the editors' list and number 6 on the readers' list. In 2003, it was listed at number eight on The Big Read survey by the BBC.
The Right to Read, Richard Stallman, 1997
The Right to Read is a short story by Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, which was first published in 1997 in Communications of the ACM. It is a cautionary tale set in the year 2047, when DRM-like technologies are employed to restrict the readership of books; when the sharing of books and written material is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
In particular, the story touches on the impact of such a system on university students, due to their need for materials, one (Dan Halbert) of whom is forced into a dilemma in which he must decide whether to loan his computer to a fellow student (Lissa Lenz), who would then have the ability to illegally access his purchased documents.
It is notable for being written before the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology was widespread (although DVD video discs which used DRM had appeared the year before, and various proprietary software since the 1970s had made use of some form of copy protection), and for predicting later hardware-based attempts to restrict how users could use content, such as Trusted Computing.
... What is to prevent school WiFi from one day requiring a Pluton assertion that your Windows PC hasn't been tampered with before you can join the network?
Remote attestation is the true enemy of your freedom. The power of the authoritarian corporatocracy to force you to use only the (entire) systems they control. It's worth reading https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.en.html again just to see how prescient Stallman was. ...
Microsoft Pluton is a Microsoft-designed security subsystem that implements a hardware-based root of trust for Azure Sphere. It includes a security processor core, cryptographic engines, a hardware random number generator, public/private key generation, asymmetric and symmetric encryption, support for elliptic curve digital signature algorithm (ECDSA) verification for secured boot, and measured boot in silicon to support remote attestation with a cloud service, and various tampering counter-measures.
Return to Persagen.com