Friday, May 1, 2009

7. 1984 - George Orwell

7. 1984 – George Orwell.
History. Published in 1949, it was written by Orwell on the island of Jura, Scotland, during 1947–1948 while critically ill with tuberculosis. This is a very famous book, published in over 65 languages, and even banned in some countries. Since the novel's publication "Orwellian" has in fact become somewhat of a catch-all for any kind of governmental overreach or dishonesty and therefore has multiple meanings and applications.
Plot: 1984, by George Orwell, is the story of a totalitarian society where the slogan “Big Brother is Watching” is pasted everywhere. Winston Smith is a middle-aged, unhealthy character, based loosely on Orwell's own frail body, an underling of the ruling oligarchy, The Party. The Party has taken early 20th century totalitarianism to new depths, with each person subjected to 24 hour surveillance, where people's very thoughts are controlled to ensure purity of the oligarchical system in place. The figurehead of the system is the omnipresent and omnipotent Big Brother. Winston feels frustrated by the oppression and rigid control of the Party, which prohibits free thought, sex, and any expression of individuality. He has illegally purchased a diary in which to write his criminal thoughts. The novel opens as it sets about another day, where his job is to change history by changing old newspaper records to match with the new truth as decided by the Party. It is a place where everything is done for the political party and five minutes everyday is designated to collectively hating and berating the enemy. Winston works at destroying information that the party in power doesn’t want the people to know about. He becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the lies that everyone is being fed and tries to rebel against the state.
Review: I found it fascinating that Orwell could have such a dismal view of the future, which was my present. I remember Amanda’s family recommending it to me, they were all into science fiction. I compare it to Soy lent Green, which I loved. Orwell's warnings about a country manipulated by an insane minority who want power for power's sake are just as relevant today as they ever were. I was quite surprised by how horrific the book was, not just in terms of a sense of helpless inevitability that permeates the entire story, but also in its graphic descriptions. But not even this can compare with the poignancy of Winston's childhood remembrances, which outline the squalid conditions he was brought up in (obviously inspired by Orwell's own time living in poverty), his mother and baby sister's sudden disappearance and his entrance into a Reclamation Camp. The year - and even the century - may have come and gone, but 1984 is about so much more than just a date. It's about who we are, who we might be and who we definitely should not be.
Opening Line: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
Closing Line: “ But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
Quotes: "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.
'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"
horrible poor mediocre okay good very good superb

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