If you can, skip the introduction to 1984.
Forget the film. Or any other adaptation.
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 relevant today, and his method for exploring them is as fresh now as when I first read 1984, in the early 1980s (how appropriate).
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 re-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 concerned 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.
on 20 August 2014
I read The Hunger Games about three years ago and fell in love with the dystopian genre; since then I have read many of the countless other dystopians that seem to have recently flooded the YA genre. Seriously. I have read A LOT of dystopians, and A LOT of them have been amazing, and I have loved A LOT of them. So, it was probably about time that I read a classic dystopian, I thought. 1984 was the obvious choice (and I intend to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley sometime soon too.)
I know that a lot of teenagers will be deterred by the idea of ‘classics’ – for some, they conjure up the image of musty, old-fashioned books – but I loved 1984. It was completely on a whole different level to all the ‘modern dystopians’ I have been reading recently. Not to discredit any of those at all, but 1984 honestly is in a league of its own.
The world created by Orwell is fascinating and so plausibly and realistically portrayed that I felt, not like I was reading a fictional novel, but a real, non-fiction account of what actually happened in 1984. That’s how believable Orwell’s writing was. I think what may have added to the depth of the dystopian world created in 1984, as opposed to other dystopians I have read, was that there was a solid political background and reasoning given for how things were the way they were.
I found it absolutely fascinating to contemplate some of the concepts of the 1984 world. Could it really be possible to keep a whole population docile by limiting their vocabulary, thus not giving them a means to express any disagreement or dissent? Could it really be possible to effectively wipe out everyone’s memory of the past by continually changing it to fit whatever version of events the government wished to tell? Would people actually accept this? Would they, or the majority at least, remain oblivious to what the government was doing?
This dystopian world that Orwell created is one of the most shocking I have read about, and it is made all the more terrifying by how realistically it is portrayed. I strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the dystopian genre, and, in fact, to anyone who wishes simply to read a truly praiseworthy novel.
on 26 June 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.
on 16 June 2000
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...
on 25 September 2007
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.
on 25 May 2002
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.
on 20 December 2006
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.
on 11 January 2014
I first read this masterpiece in my youth,some 35 years ago.I was taken aback by its strength,its brilliance and its depth.Yet I never suspected then that it was much more than brilliant literature.That it was a crystal ball,a time machine,a window into the future.
Disregard the names,the place,the system-all the ornaments necessary to build a story.Focus into the essence of it.Which is as simple,as it is frightening.What Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair)tells us is crystal clear.The concentration of all power into the hands of one(class,person,party,cast,group,company,...whatever)is the cradle of all horrors.And the only goal of those who possess absolute power is to maintain their power position at all costs-to others.And that they will use absolutely every method conceivable to achieve this.
Read every chilling line.False is true.Ignorance is strength.And so on.Try to fully comprehend the total reversal of reality in meanings and words.The ministry of propaganda ,whose job is to feed -non stop-lies to the people is named Ministry of Truth ! No need to say more.
There are three social classes.Those who have evrything.Those who have very little ,but being afraid of losing it they support the first class.And those who have nothing at all,and,therefore,nothing to lose but their lives.
Try to grasp the true meaning of war.Not a means to destroy the "enemy"(as there is not,really, such thing,because you need an"enemy"more than anything else),but an instrument to exert total control over your own people,your own citizens,who constitute the only true threat against your power and authority.
Use fear in every form possible to control them.And,more important than anything else,control their minds.Even if they are to be executed dissidents must,first,be converted into acolytes.Then they can be killed.
And when you finish the book,look around you .And think.Long and hard.
on 6 September 2006
Belonging to a Book Club ensures that you read books you wouldn't otherwise read. Sometimes you get a real turkey other times you get a masterpiece and, wow! this book is a masterpiece.
Set in 1984 in Oceania, this book tells the story of one man's journey to find the truth and ultimately freedom in a very brutal totalitarian regime under the ever watchful eye of Big Brother and the thoughtpolice.
If you are looking for a book which has a good story, brilliantly, beautifully written, suspense, and is thought provoking, this is the book to read. Some people say that to write one master piece in your life time is luck, but to write two (Animal Farm) is pure genius.
George Orwell didn't just write a book he wrote a legacy for future generations. Anyone who is concerned about the erosion of free speech and the freedom to be heard should read this book.
on 23 September 2006
1984 is one of those rare books that genuinely changes your outlook on life and the way in which you perceive society as a whole.
There's so much that could be said about Orwell's masterpiece, but I don't think I could word it quite as well as he did. His radical take on "neo-feudalism" and the class system is something that is becoming ever more relevant today, particularly in England - where 1984 is set, and based on.
Can you believe that this book was written scarcely three years after the war?
I think everyone should read 1984 at least once. It puts things into perspective.