Thursday, June 12, 2014

1984 by George Orwell

In George Orwell’s classic dystopian and political-commentary novel, 1984, thought is controlled and “Big Brother is watching you,” resulting in the dichotomous mottos “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” and “ ignorance is strength.”  The Party continually puts out propaganda to support their efforts, claiming a state of perpetual war is peace, and that being controlled is better than freedom, and accepting a false reality while ignoring the actual truth in “Doublethink” is fortitude.  In this drowning society of overzealous nationalism, we find ourselves with an unlikely hero, Winston Smith, a frail, nonthreatening member of the Outer Party attempting to break through the ideological strife and blockage of free thought.  What will become of this “thoughtcrime” perpetrator in this dramatic, but at times heart pounding and heartbreaking novel?  Will Winston succeed in this oppressive climate, or will he merely succumb to the overwhelming power of “Big Brother”?  This is a must-read.

George Orwell was one of the premier novelists, political satirists, and commentators of the 20th century, and his work continues to influence popular and political culture nearly 60 years after his death.  Even the term “Orwellian,” to describe Orwell’s work opposing totalitarian and unjust social practices, remains ubiquitous in the literary, and perhaps real, world.  I was quite familiar with Orwell before reading 1984, as I read another Orwellian classic, Animal Farm, in 10th grade, which is allegorical for the Russian Revolution and mocks Stalin, who Orwell believed turned Russia (then the Soviet Union) into a dictatorship.  Orwell’s writing mastery of political satire and commentary, and dystopian societies, is no exception in 1984, where he brilliantly constructs a future society that is beginning to resemble our own.  I found Animal Farm great, but I think 1984 elevates the meaning of “Orwellian” to a whole new level.  Orwell’s fantastic works have paved the way for other great dystopian novels, like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and as stated before, 1984 is a must-read.

Also discover: Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, and Lord of the Flies