What’s it all about?:
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
What did I think?:
First of all, I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get to this classic and wonderful novel. But in a strange way, it’s kind of wonderful, as I get to discover Orwellian genius for the very first time! The story is set in 1984 (which was the future when it was written), and presents the reader with a new dystopian world where the original Big Brother (no, NOT the television programme!) is supreme high commander and is always watching. We are introduced to our main character Winston, whose job involves editing and updating a multitude of records i.e. newspapers, pamphlets, books, to obliterate traces of a past that “the Party” feels necessary, or in some cases, to completely vaporise or re-write history to fit the current line of thinking. In many instances, a particular individual is obliterated from the records if required, so it is as if they have never existed. The remit under Big Brother’s control is known as Oceania, and mainly encompasses America and Great Britain. Some other parts of our world are now known as Eurasia and Eastasia, one of which Big Brother is bound to be at war with at some point or another whilst informing their citizens that this has always been the case, even though in truth it has a tendency to chop and change.
One of the main objects of the BB party appears to be the creation of mind-controlled, emotionless puppets in its population – this is essential for them to maintain their absolute power. With the implementation of telescreens and microphones in all homes and public places, the Party manages to keep a constant eye on their inhabitants for any signs of dangerous rebellion or indeed thoughts of their own, hence the expression “Big Brother is watching you.” Faces must remain expressionless while body language is vigorously scrutinised to ensure no “thought crimes” are carried out.
“Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
Any bonds between parent and child, man and man or man and woman are severed before they even connect, to a degree where you may be terrified of your own child as they are actively encouraged to report any deviant parental behaviours. So our hero Winston is in big trouble when he feels himself questioning Big Brother’s methods and actions. On meeting Julia, he believes he has found a kindred spirit and they fall in love. But can they escape BB’s ever watchful eye?
This is such a powerful book, and in my opinion, a work of genius first to devise this terrifying new world, and second to make the pure evil of the Party so gripping, realistic and page-turning, that I couldn’t go to sleep until I knew how it ended. I don’t want to say too much or give anything away, but I’ve never read such a brilliant personification of insanity and corruption. Finally, the Afterword where Orwell explores the language of the Party (Newspeak) is truly fascinating and made all the hairs stand up on my arms. Pure and unadulterated genius, this book should be read by everyone, as soon as possible. What’s in your Room 101?
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):