The first time I read 1984 fifty years ago, I was 18 at the time. It had a profound impact on me, but I see now how poorly I understood it. George Orwell’s 1984 features a dystopian future society where free thought is illegal and punishable by “vaporization” which is the act of erasing someone from history. Since the government controls all thought and all information, they can change it as they please, and can therefore change reality as they please. Most of the story is based around this idea that anything perceived as reality, is reality, while also drawing many parallels to Stalin’s tendency to erase people from existence and Karl Marx’s political writings.
1984 is an amazing book. If you enjoy thinking about something for a while and having your mind blown once every few pages, read this book now. It doesn’t start blowing your mind from the beginning, but it still helps you get a grasp of these ideas, and then George Orwell decides “you’ve had enough fun now, how about I explode your brain a few times?” He takes these concepts from a one to a one-hundred in an instant and it just makes the book that much better. Orwell does this in such a fashion that after he breaks your brain, you think about everything that’s happened in the book so far, and you realize what’s been really going on under the surface all this time, and it gives you a greater appreciation for the rest of the book. Orwell’s 1984, which is about a society without free thought, gives us so much to think about, and keeps the reader thinking about it for weeks on end until they start to question their own reality and realize that maybe they’re taking the concept a little too far. In this part of my review, I would like to talk about the ending. I feel that many people didn’t like the ending because they didn’t go on some sort of grand adventure and overthrow the government and go on to live happily ever after. However, I’m happy that the ending didn’t go that way because a happy ending would have ruined the whole point of the book. The whole book is about how hopeless everything is and that everyone’s being brainwashed and there’s no way to escape. If they went on to overthrow the government, then all of that would be pointless, all of the brainwashing and themes throughout the book would become pointless and we would feel empty. We wouldn’t have had any appreciation of the entire rest of the book because it would have simply been overridden. The ending was created perfectly so that instead of nullifying the rest of the book it enforced it and gave us a much greater appreciation of what happened. It also just exploded our concept of all reality and everything we thought we knew about fact and fiction while this one man’s entire past is erased by one relatively quick succession of events. The ending really just drove the book home, and it wouldn’t be the same amazing story without it.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
It was fascinatingly creepy learning bit by bit the world described by Orwell. A sick, degenerated reality that seems just like the perfect setting for a dystopian novel, but that in truth disturbingly has got some common points with the world we live in.
Mental manipulation, centralized power, constant control, suppressed social classes... do they remind you of something?
It was as if Orwell had already foreseen the future, or simply understood the human nature.
Of course it wasn't an easy read nor a light one, because stopping to reflect is simply inevitable and sometimes even confusing, but it's without any doubt a book that everybody should read. It really makes you become more open-minded and critical towards what surrounds you.
Secondly, it was one of the few books I enjoyed even if they were mostly descriptive (particularly in the first part). But it was really intriguing witnessing that distressing society through the eyes of an oblivious rebel, how he came to the point that he saw himself as crazy because he couldn't even discern between his real memories and what the government claimed was The Truth.
The only part I had some struggles with was the one in the middle: it consists in three chapters of the book circulating among the political opponents and is totally theoretical, exactly like a textbook....Continua
This is a tough book, the toughest I’ve read and possibly one of the toughest ever written. It’s a book you should read when you’re actually ready for it, because you’re in for a huge blow.
I was surprised to see that so many details of what Orwell described as the “ultimate dictatorship” were actually true and so many of the strategies and dynamics he portrayed actually happened in many former-communist countries. What he described as Thought Police, Thoughtcrime and mind/reality control may not have happened exactly as he foresaw, but the techniques and protocols actually enforced in many countries were very similar, the fear-ridden and sick society he described resembles so much what you can now read in essays from historians and memoirs from dissidents. What surprised me even more is that he wrote this between 1946/1948 – how could he know so much then about what was already happening in some areas of the world and was about to happen in years to come? Yes, the purges in USSR had already occurred – Orwell himself experienced something similar relating to his affiliation with the POUM Spanish Communist Party during the Spanish Civil War and he may have well read Arthur Koestler – but still, how could he know?
But apart from that, his bleak view on humanity, even leaving aside Communism and its fall, is still striking and relevant. Probably even more so, now that (most) ideology-based-governments have failed and collapsed and indifference, selfishness, greed and lust for power are the distinctive features of our society.
This book is actually an essay in the form of a novel – a gripping and mind-blowing novel at that. What really matters here is not merely a historical analysis of what actually happened or what may have happened in the decades Orwell was writing about, or what may still happen, for that matter. What Orwell really offers here is a prophetic vision focusing on the (im)balance of power and strength, on control exerted on the individuals by elites worldwide, in any historical era, whatever the political (or religious!) stance. The issue here is human nature, instinct, identity, the power of memory and its distortion, exploitation and manipulation. It’s about violence and weakness, about our own will/(in?)ability to stay alive, to preserve our identity and freedom, to remain conscious and not become just hollow shells. If only he could see us now....Continua
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