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Facts About the Books You Were Forced to Read in High School

To read or not to read, that is the question. The required reading in high school was enjoyable for some and bothersome for others, but the literature left an impact either way. There are a lot of fascinating stories behind the novels we all grew up reading. 

So without further ado, here are some facts about 5 of your favorite (or not) books from high school. 

1. A computer error is named after Fahrenheit 451

Ever encountered “Error 451” on your computer screen? It means you were trying to access a page that’s “Unavailable for Legal Reasons.” The cause is usually a web page censored by the government and is given the number ‘451’ as a reference to Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s novel based on censorship and destroying information.

2. Animal Farm was Rejected Four Times by Publishers

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a staple of English classrooms. The novella was rejected four times, given its criticism of the Soviet Union. The novella was originally named A Fairy Story and was written in the form of an animal fable, but it was clearly satire for Stalinism. Its use of pigs as protagonists were deemed offensive, particularly for Russian readers. Secker & Warburg eventually published the novella in August 1945, and it received considerable success in Britain and abroad. Within months of its publication, the work was translated into several languages.

3. George Orwell was Under Government Surveillance While Writing 1984 

George Orwell contributes to the required reading list again with his dystopian novel, 1984, warning of the dangers of totalitarianism and government surveillance. Ironically enough, Orwell was under government surveillance while writing about government surveillance. The British government was watching Orwell because they believed he held socialist opinions. 

Additionally, The “Thought Police” mentioned throughout the novel are based on the Japanese wartime secret police who literally arrested Japanese citizens for having “unpatriotic thoughts.”

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, was a deplorable speller 

Fitzgerald was so bad that American literary critic Edmund Wilson called the author’s first book, This Side of Paradise, “one of the most illiterate books of any merit ever published.” 

5. William Golding hated his own book, The Lord of the Flies

The Lord of the Flies is known to be a polarizing story, and the book’s author is a hater of his own work. He regrets writing the novel and says its classic status struck him as a “joke”. He compared the novel to “O-level stuff.” (O-level is the lower level of standardized testing in parts of the UK – basically saying his novel was the rough equivalent of middle school English writing.)


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