Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1984: a review

It tells the story of Winston Smith – a member of the outer party which constitutes about 20% of the population.  It is a time of permanent war – Oceania, one of three superpowers, is at war with either of the two – often alternating with no prior notice.  Children are encouraged to listen at the keyholes of their parents bedrooms and praised when they turn their parents in to the thought police.  Every house has a telescreen – and Big Brother is always watching.

 He is of above average intelligence and begins to question the regime which he is living under.  Having been born a few years before Big Brother took over he can still remember a time before History was altered and kept under control by the party.  Living under the regime where sex is seen as a disgusting necessity; where women are taught that by having children they need to ‘fulfil their duty to the party’ he begins a love affair with a younger woman, Julia, a boisterous woman who doesn’t bother worrying about any of Big Brothers rules and restrictions except when it interferes with her sexuality.  The pair run off to the countryside and rent a room and meet up to discuss joining the brotherhood – a secret underground organisation plotting the overthrow of Big Brother.  With only one problem: Big Brother is always watching.
This book has inspired so many things – not only the television show ‘Big Brother’ but also ‘Room 101’ – the infamous room full of the thing you hate.  It’s easy to see why so many have found it inspiring – it is completely unique, this dystopian world which Orwell has created.

I originally read this about six years ago – and the main thing which stuck with me was the last chapter.  It haunted me throughout my re-reading of the book – which I think made the second reading even more profound.  At times I felt a bit uneasy reading the novel as I was visiting places like The Killing Fields and reading about Pol Pot’s regime and although he wasn’t as extreme as Big Brother there did seem to be quite a few overlaps between the novel and real life.  

Personally, I loved it, I was sitting on a bus driving on the bumpiest road and was so enthralled in the action that I continued reading.  It’s a bit slow to begin with, to understand the terminology, place names and ideas behind everything but it is soon explained.  It’s easy to read and just such a classic.  Cannot recommend it enough!  You should read it purely to see how many different things have become spin-offs from Orwell’s genius.
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1 comment

Jessi @ Life: The Epic Journey said...

I've always been a little nervous about reading, perhaps thinking that by ignoring the book, it will never come true. :)

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