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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading cos it's brilliant, never mind all the hype!
If you can, skip the introduction to 1984.
Forget the film.
Forget that it might be comment on society 50 years ago and that it might apply to Soviet / Sino governments which hardly exist any more.
The themes which Orwell tackles are completely releavant.
So just dive straight in and read about a brilliant, scary, compelling and stark possible-future...
Published on 31 July 2007 by Rowena Hoseason

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1984
A most depressing but well written book, which I did not enjoy. It was for our book club therefore i had to read it, having read it once years ago
Published 8 months ago by Cameron


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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading cos it's brilliant, never mind all the hype!, 31 July 2007
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
If you can, skip the introduction to 1984.
Forget the film.
Forget that it might be comment on society 50 years ago and that it might apply to Soviet / Sino governments which hardly exist any more.
The themes which Orwell tackles are completely releavant.
So just dive straight in and read about a brilliant, scary, compelling and stark possible-future society.

1984 is an amazingly good read. It's easy to get in to and the characters grip you straight away. The language is pretty straightforward and it's a compact story -- so it's not a marathon 800-page monster like many modern novels can be. The dilemma of Winston Smith is so involving that I've found myself reading the whole book in one or two sessions (and I know exactly what happens!), just because I can't bear to put it down.

So just read it for the pleasure of reading a really great speculative novel, which comments on human society, and human relationships. Yes, it has dated somewhat but that's true of every book. The nightmare which surrounds the main characters isn't affected by the passage of time, and Room 101 is still very, very scary (you'll also discover just how many popular phrases came from this book. Plenty!)

Then, afterwards, you can get really scared about how much of it has come true and how close our society is to that of Orwell's imagination...

And if you were forced to read 1984 or Animal Farm at school, it's worth re-reading it as an adult to appreciate it without someone leaning over your shoulder and telling you what you should be thinking.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True, and becoming truer, 26 Jun 2006
`1984' is Orwell's post-modern classic, concerning what the world may look like in 1984, 40 years after the book was written. In Orwell's dystopia, the UK, as part of Oceania, is ruled by the despotic Big Brother. Big Brother has total control of all the media, and therefore controls all the information reaching the populace. The people, divided into the ruling Inner Party, the middle class Outer Party and the under-educated Proles, have total loyalty to Big Brother, in both thought and deed, and the righteousness of his actions, and the cause of Oceania, is unquestioned. Hints of rebellion, even in people's thoughts, are viciously crushed, and executions are commonplace. Against this background, Winston Smith begins to have doubts. He wants to engage in a love affair (as opposed to the passionless, state-sanctioned marriage) and have the ability to question Big Brother. Smith's attempts at subversion bring him face to face with the workings of the party, and a brutal introduction to the realities of life in Oceania.

Orwell's book chronicles a scary trajectory in which the twentieth century was headed in the 1940s, and at times it is no less relevant today. Although Orwell was writing partially about the totalitarian regimes of Hitler and Stalin, the observation of governments controlling the masses by controlling the flow of information through the media is possibly more pertinent today than ever before. Sometimes our society looks very different from Oceania, but some aspects are scarily similar, and Orwell's book is a timeless reminder about the dangers of giving anyone too much power. Few writers (perhaps only Shakespeare) have introduced so many new phrases to the English language. Two current TV programmes (`Big Brother' and `Room 101') take both their names and concepts from the pages of `1984'. This is perhaps an indication of both the richness of ideas and their ongoing relevance of `1984', and also an indication that everyone should read this book, to see how much of the world around them they can see in its pages.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affecting and dark, 20 Dec 2006
By 
J. Higgins-Commowick "boiled_elephant" (Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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In 1984, Orwell relates the depressing story of Winston Smith, a doomed citizen living in Airstrip One (formerly known as London), a poverty-ridden dystopia ruled over by The Party: a city where those who show signs of independent thought vanish in the night, where gigantic telescreens monitor Winston's every move, where he must scratch a living on what The Party provides, working a job rewriting old newspapers in The Party's favour while clinging to his sanity through tiny acts of secret rebellion.

The first of these acts is to purchase and write in a diary, and later to meet a female Party member in private (marriage is formally controlled by The Party, and is strictly for the sole purpose of reproduction). It is only when he finds true happiness and apparent haven from the eyes of the Thought Police that The Party choose to act, arresting him and subjecting him to a torture too cruel and lasting to imagine: one that destroys him in a more important way than death ever could.

As harrowing as Winston's despair-ridden tale is, it's the sheer relevance of the world he inhabits that makes the book such a joy to read in the 21st century. With our highly-filtered and biased news reports, a network of CCTV cameras watching us in city centres, tax on our products feeding the government money and censoring laws and activists stifling free speech, comparisons to 1984 are inevitable. In the world of 1984, people are robbed of personal freedom, brainwashed, abducted, tortured, gradually starved, lied to and killed, and the truly terrifying result of The Party's efforts is that there exists no material proof of their crimes.

The book illuminates the darkest eventuality of politics and government control, and makes it feel that bit too real for comfort.

Orwell's writing has not aged noticeably - I had no problem reading it, and I'm all of seventeen, so most readers will fly through it. If anything, however, some may find the writing style too coarse or simple: Orwell never entirely escapes the analytical style so well-suited to his essays, and in places the book lacks emotion and descriptive flair. In particular, the female protagonist is painfully shallow, never extending very far beyond a "Hello, Dear!" persona. At one point, Orwell also diverts away from the main story and dedicates a large portion of writing to a book within the story, one that Winston is reading, which should be interesting but is annoyingly long-winded and detracts from the main story.

Overall, though, 1984 is profound and chilling. It is a timeless tale of man vs state, and may be uplifting or depressing depending on the individual reader. At any rate, the countless parallels to modern culture make it interesting, and the arguments of logic between Winston and an Inner Party Member will give budding philosophers food for thought. Political enthusiasts will also find issues to chew over, and fans of popular culture may pick up on some unlikely links; musicians, authors and directors in years since have taken heaps of inspiration from the book: the iconic expression "a rebel from the waist down", made famous by a Marilyn Manson song, finds its roots here, alongside the concept of Big Brother and the inspiration of the video game Half-Life 2.

Something for everybody.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Social Sciences or Psychology at Uni? Read or Re-read this book!, 25 Sep 2007
By 
E. Turner "lizanon" (UK) - See all my reviews
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If you need to crank up your mind to think outside the box in a university subject, this novel will help. My college lecturer said "If you haven't read 1984 before you get to university DO SO!" So I did, out of sheer curiosity.

Everyone has written about the story line and the style. Here is the practical comment.

When you read this book, imagine you are writing it just after WWII and the technology, politics and the way society operated then. At the same time think about how things are now. I was freeked out, pleasantly. The author must have been some kind of a prophet. For example, satellite tv knows what you are watching, when you watch it, categorises your type of viewing. They are watching you watching them - similar to the happenings of 1984. The novel describes a language that is similar to the texting language we use today. Are we heading for a society described in 1984?

A good debate to help you get into the right frame of mind for sociology, psychology and criminology.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 25 Jan 2007
This review is from: Nineteen Eighty-Four (Paperback)
1984, for me, was a last minute choice for a dreaded critical essay in order to pass my English exam. However, I found it to be incredibly interesting and at some points frightening as to the extent it could be compared to real life. A great plot and fairly easy to follow storyline but an even more fantastic meaning when you dig deep into it. The only down side for me was the ending, which, to this day I do not understand. I have asked numerous English teachers, being given a wide variety of authors.

This is a fantastic read and I would recommend it to anyone.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books that I have ever read., 25 May 2002
By A Customer
This book is truly outstanding, it is a timeless political satire that demands to be read to be fully appreciated. Nineteen Eighty Four is a chilling portrayal of totalitarianism with a Nietzsche philosophy --that there are no facts, only interpretations-- from the book we have: '"Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else," says O'Brien. " . . . In the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth."'
The concepts that Orwell deals are evident in our society today, only by reading the book will you truly understand Doublethink, Newspeak et cetera. After you read the book, it leaves a lasting impression, you will never look at the world the same way again.
This book, along with Animal Farm, would serve as chapters for a political Bible. A must read and a true classic.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most interesting and chilling books ever, 16 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Nineteen Eighty-Four (Paperback)
This is a book that will grasp you from the start to the end. It is not just a book, it is a fantastic love tale,, it is a compedium of human traits and society, it is a grim phrophesy, a clever philisophical discussion, and so much more. Firstly the world it is set in is so realistic, yet weird and chilling at the ame time, the way the world is split into 3 super states constantly at war. The way there is adoration of BIG BROTHER and how the higher up the ranks of society you go, the more demented and cruel everyone is. And this is just the shallow outer edge of the book! its chilling in itself! But the REAL nightmare comes when you look deeper into the plot, the states of mind, the 2 minutes hate, and the talks with o brien. This is when you get a horrifying picture of what human society can create, and might well of done, had Orwells predictions come true. And yet through all the horrer comes this weird dream-like feeling, of a strange surreal world. On top of this you can look at the world today around us and HONESTLY say that some, even a lot, of the traits and systems in 1984 exist today. The societies of hate, the manipulation of truth in newspapers like the SUN. These factors all contribute to making one of the, if not THE, best book(s) ever written. READ IT AND HAVE A GOOD LONG LOOK AROUND YOU...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but very depressing, 15 Aug 2009
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I have never been told so many times by so many people (all of whose opinions I respect) about a book I must read. So when I finally got around to reading 1984, there was almost a sense of relief about it. That sanguine mood quickly evaporated. Yes it's a clever parody of a world without free thinking and the pain someone feels who wishes to question the reality with which is presented - but it's simply too depressing. Like a funeral that never ends.

1984 has ubiquitous comparisions with communism, but I think comparisions can be made with absolutely any group which has an absence of critical thinking. To some extent that includes nearly all groups as they all have something axiomatic which serves as an unquestioned foundation. For that reason the story for me isn't just about groupthink etc it's really about the pain and misery someone who thinks for themselves can feel when they are in an environment which shuns such thinking.

The philosopher Descartes said: "I think, therefore I am" and what he meant by this was you could never fool a dead person into thinking so if you think you must be alive. I'd go one step further in that, I'd believe the more one is thinking and questioning the more one is actually really living their own life rather than just residing their mind in cloned thought.

I really felt every ounce of pain for poor Winston and really found the entire narrative very depressing. I accept 1984 is a seminal piece of writing and I am greatly impressed words such as "doublespeak, groupthink, thought crime, big brother" made it into political lexion.
But 1984, at times made a dreary Radiohead tune feel like a nice family picnic in the Summer in comparison. It's a very clever book but because it's central tenets can be applied to so many aspects of life, the nihilistic undertones would make me suggest yes you should read this book but have a very happy activity planned for as soon as you are finished.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Political Sci-Fi, 27 July 2009
"1984" is one of those rare novels that convincingly mix politics with sci-fi (the sci-fi element being employed only to explore the consequences of the reader's mode of thinking). In this book, Orwell creates a sense of fear that haunts the reader for days on end. Why? Of course, reviewers talk of "Big Brother" and "Room 101" as the central elements of the novel which cause concern. But in my view, it is the manner in which Winston's, (the protagonist whose name reflects England's great, but flawed, leader in WW2), story is told that shocks. While Churchill is considered a hero, our Winston is a nobody. Like us, he is subject to the whims of those in authority, even though no-one has any idea what, exactly, the party's policy is. He hates the party, he hates society and he hates women, only because they tempt him into un-permitted sex. As we all do, he obeys the rules laid out by strangers. But he suddenly realises that he will die soon and has neither done, nor said, anything of importance. And this is where Winston stops being a nobody, even though no-one, not even himself, is aware of the change. We see the change, haunted as we are by brutal, realistic imagery and honest, heart-rending descriptions of life given over to our politicians. A previous reviewer criticised the "sudden" manner in which Winston "falls in love". Obviously, that reviewer is thinking along the lines that Orwell is condemning. Winston does not fall in love. He becomes a man. That is all that is important to him; to be a man. To have a women without Party permission. Or, in our terms, to have sex without the moral judgement of society. To write and speak about the world as one sees it, right or wrong. To associate with those who agree with one's political, moral, aesthetic and religious beliefs. To be an individual in a world that values consensus more than originality. There are those who claim that Moses, Jesus, Mohamed and Buddha were prophets. With "1984" Orwell has put himself forward as the greatest political philosopher of our time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The joke's on Big Brother, 20 April 2009
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Good political writing is rare and the political novel, let alone a good political novel, is even rarer. Orwell considered this the case even in his own time when he was reading politcal fantasy novels written by conservatives about storing sufficient coal to beat the miners (a prospect Orwell thought was ludicrous but which became historical fact following the election of the Thatcher government).

It became Orwell's mission to make political writing an art, his collosal output in investigative journalism, literary reviews and polemical essays is tribute to the fact. However Orwell is remembered for his political fiction, Animal Farm and 1984, which he turned to as the next most popular medium to the radio show.

Of the two books 1984 is the more complex, at least this was Orwell's intent but he spent much of his time bemoaning popular misconceptions about his books. While he considered Animal Farm a failure in conveying a simple message about revolution betrayed, with reviewers and the public seizing on passages which supported a more cynical conservatism, 1984 was the greater disappointment.

1984 is a future dystopia but it was also a novel about his day and age, for instance the generic Victory gin and cigarettes a depiction of post war shortages and "Prolefeed", that mix of crime story and sex scandals, the tabloid press (then and now).

People often read 1984 as a glooming, "end of the world is nye" style novel, warning that once freedom is gone it wont ever be recovered and everyone breaks under pressure. There is an element of truth in so far that Orwell struggled with what he considered his own propensity for u turns (the "no war but class war" war resistor who became a "revolutionary patriot" at the time of writing "The Lion and The Unicorn"). However 1984 is a grand satire on both authoritarianism per se and authoritarian personalities in particular, the joke is on Big Brother.

The regime is horrific but its doomed to failure and the writing is on the wall for Big Brother. All they can produce with their best efforts and unscrupulous schemes is a gibbering wreck, less than a man.

There is entirely nothing enduring about the regime itself, amnesia hasnt stopped at foreign policy since Smith cant recall his own up bringing too well. Basic societal building blocks, such as the family are going to pieces, strange Malthusian ethics prevail and everyone, friend and foe, is miserable, insecure and wretched.

This is a book which can be enjoyed on a number of levels, its well written the pace is good, characterisation believeable and sympathetic and everyone will have their own memorable passages to talk over with friends (I personally remember the secret police smashing the snow globe as significant). It is good political writing but it has been considered equally good science fiction or simply a good book. I recommend it to any reader.
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