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June Classics

By Megan Powell, Natasha Smith and Monique Smith


With the sun starting to make more prolonged appearances, it is time to soak up the outdoors with a good book – and what better way to do this than by savouring a classic story. Classic literature undoubtedly has a grace that is enriching, and which questions the paratextual inspiration. As we enter June, it is clear to see the inspiring influences of nature that these writers might have experienced which led them to publish their classic novels in June. To compliment the month, and the hopefully lasting sunshine that it brings, here are some classic recommendations that were published in June.


Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was famous for critiquing aspects of class and society among his works, and Little Dorrit is no different. A large portion of the novel is located in Marshalsea debtors’ prison, where Mr Dorrit, who has been living there for twenty years, is known as “Father of the Marshalsea.” Dickens took inspiration from his own childhood experiences, as his father entered this very prison in February 1824, leaving him to enter a blacking factory to support the family. The Dickens family continued to struggle financially, despite John Dickens leaving the prison after three months. This theme of instability and hardship is mirrored in Little Dorrit.


The story is set in 1826, where the setting of prisons resonates throughout as a theme of entrapment within the class system, and how one can eventually break free from society’s physical and psychological containment of oneself. This is explored through Mr Dorrit, who finds himself receiving a wealthy, surprising inheritance which lifts him out of poverty and into society, enabling him to finally leave the debtors’ prison after losing all hope. Amy, “Little” Dorrit, supports her father by selling her own hand sewn items and clearly acts as the kind-hearted young character that Dickens is known for placing in his novels. Dickens reinforces the struggles that many faced at the time throughout the novel, with the looming threat of imprisonment always waiting to catch those unlucky individuals.



Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most famous dystopian fictional and cautionary tales ever published. Published in June 1949, it was Orwell’s ninth and final book completed during his life.


The story takes place in one of three fictional totalitarian states. Oceania is governed by the all-controlling Party and its leader, Big Brother, which has brainwashed the population into unthinking obedience. The Party has created a propagandist language designed to limit free thought and promote the Party’s doctrines which are monitored and kept in place through continual surveillance.


Orwell was said to have written the book as a warning against totalitarianism, and his chilling dystopia still leaves a deep impression on readers many years on. It’s often seen as a prophetic book, seeming to make chillingly accurate predictions about world and political order, and the structural basis for societies. Nineteen Eighty-Four is also the most banned book in the United States – which is ironic given the content and context of the story. However, that has definitely not stopped it from becoming one of the most enduring classics of the 20th century. Its ideas are so poignant that many modern novels have drawn success from its themes, such as The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Giver.

The relevance of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four seems to only grow with time, especially as it continues to encourage vital social conversations about the world we live in.



The Stranger by Albert Camus

This French novella, written by classic author Albert Camus, would be the perfect summer companion to impart wisdom throughout the long summer nights. Published in June 1942, The Stranger, as it was originally titled, found its English translation with the alternative title The Outsider. Profound themes of morality are questioned throughout the novel with Camus astutely arguing that the only certainty in life is death, with the purpose of life being difficult to decipher. In this quest for the meaning of life, Camus presents a clear narrative enabling the detached protagonist’s attitude to be presented. Meursault's questioning presents numerous themes throughout the novella, many of a serious and thought-provoking nature, set against the backdrop of his experience of being a French man living in colonial Algeria. This personal sense of displacement provokes an isolated feeling in Meursault, which leads to his apathetic and thoughtless actions when he mercilessly murders an Arab man. While on trial, Camus is able to further the themes of humanity, hypocrisy and social politics.


The simplistic narrative is an essential framework for Camus to present the plot of The Stranger. With all the simple stylistic features, the contents of the novella is anything but. Camus cleverly weaves a profound and attentive philosophy in such a small book demonstrating his astounding talent.


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