Friday, 13 March 2009

Book review: 1984 - George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-four (Penguin Modern Classics)Rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've known the story of 1984 my whole life. For as long as I can remember, my Mum used to tell me about 1984 and how Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was better. I've always known about Newspeak, Big Brother and thought crime and I watched the film starring John Hurt several times.

Strangely enough though, I never read the book up until now. I guess I believed that because it was a classic, it would be too difficult for me to read. Well, it is an extremely easy book to read and it is exciting, romantic, interesting and as relevant today as it was in 1949. This is a timeless, magnificent book but it is really creepy to see that we didn't learn the lessons that Orwell was trying to teach us.

For the uninitiated, 1984 is a novel set in a dystopian future where communism spread uncontested across Europe at the end of World War II. This lead to the development of a totalitarian force governing England and the United States. The Party controls every aspect of both living and working and party members are watched and kept under constant surveillance at every moment of their days. The ultimate aim of the Party is to control thoughts and their greatest tool in achieving this is to control reality an memories by altering all written and broadcast materials to suit their propaganda stories. The population is kept in a state of near squalor with severe rationing continuing far longer than is necessary and relations between people are kept to a minimum. Sexuality and passion are completely controlled and outlawed.

1984 is a true masterpiece and I would certainly recommend that everyone read the book - at least once.
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8 comments

  1. Thanks for an interesting review. We read 'Animal Farm' in the last year of primary school and I found it boring and incomprehensible (I was probably too young to understand it properly), so I haven't read anything by Orwell since. I've heard other people say good things about '1984' too, so I might give it a go!

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  2. I've never even been interested in the concept of Animal Farm yet I beleive it is a great novel. I don't think I would read it any time soon! But yes, I'd recommend 1984.

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  3. Agreed! It's my #2 favourite novel ever. (A Clockwork Orange is #1.)

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  4. @ tenderhooligan: I loved the film Clockwork Orange and even lived in the neighbourhood for a while! I must try read the book one day. Maybe I can hire the film and read in tandem.

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  5. Well, as with any film/ book combination, I would read before I watch. I have both if you want to borrow them?

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  6. Ah thanks but I suck at giving stuff back! I have the book and I'll just hire the film!

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  7. Despite what your Mum used to say, I'd argue that Nineteen Eighty-Four is much better than Brave New World. :-)

    A few of my other favourite Dystopian novels include The Wanting Seed, Fahrenheit 451 and The Stone That Never Came Down. Have you had chance to read any of them?

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  8. @ John: Oh wow - thanks for the recommendations! You have excellent choice in books (she says after the last comment in which I said our tastes were similar). Those books are going straight on my Goodreads reading list.

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