1984 (Signet Classics)
Deep, poignant, disturbing book.
It is easy to see why 1984 is a classic. Its account of the future is utterly plausible and its themes are strongly reinforced through the story. It is sad that its weakest links are by far the protagonists. Winston has some potential for interesting dynamics inside himself- working for the Ministry of Truth vs his memories of the fabricated photo. While I understand why his relationship with Julia is necessary to the narrative, it is by far the most poorly executed aspect. This is a shame because due to its nature and role, it should be the strongest, most compelling part of the narrative. The basis of their relationship is utterly arbitrary and I have a difficult time believing there is any real substance to their relationship. The book with a book manages to be more interesting despite its poor technique than Winston and Julia. Furthermore, Julia manages to have even less depth than Winston, which is quite a feat. One should read 1984, but it is a flawed book bogged down by a tired romance.
Wonderful synopsis on what could happen if society is not vigilant. I thought that it was not the most realistic portrayal of what could happen, but it drew one to think deeply about if society is too controlling already.
One of the best quotes from this book:
We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a Revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
Kinda chilling considering the current political climate.
Why did I read 1984? It is on the Amazon 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list. Also, considered a classic and something that I needed to read at least once in my lifetime.
Full blog post here: http://skullcoffee.blogspot.com/
I think this book is better approached by an adult than a high school freshman. The philosophical undertones are much more difficult to relate to as a hopeful 14-year-old than a cynical adult. I’m glad I revisited this one.
You have three characters that really matter: Winston, Julia, and O’Brien. None of them are likable – Winston is the perfect vision of a disgruntled middle-aged man; Julia is a sex-crazed, flighty young woman; and O’Brien is a shadowy figure who is utterly deluded. While I don’t expect to like all the characters, it certainly helps to find at least one likable.
The story takes place in London, 1984. The flats have been turned into tenements and Oceania (there are three countries now – Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia) is constantly at war with… someone. Written in 1949, this story certainly gives a chill about what the world could look like 40 years in the future. With the exception of fashion choices (overalls) the world is described well enough to feel real, while leaving much to the reader’s imagination.
The dystopia element of the tale is where the book shines. A successful dystopia chooses one aspect – in this case, freedom – and threatens it to show what a future would look like ifsomething changed this aspect. There is usually a disaster involved (war) and there is usually governmental interference (Big Brother). Winston starts as a traditional “my life sucks” kinda guy, but it’s not the first half of the story that I find impressive. It’s the second half, with the breaking of Winston. I won’t go into too much detail for those who haven’t read it, but the torture techniques are interesting (in a horrifying way) and the lack of happy ending is important. Far too many dystopias have happy endings, and that sort of defies the point.
I don’t mind Orwell’s writing style, which surprised me considering the genre and age of the book. A lot of older science fiction I personally find monotonous, but the balance of detail and directness was perfect and it didn’t drag too terribly. I think the length is perfect – if anything, it could be a little shorter. It feels a bit rushed in places, by retrospectively, I think that pacing works in the situations presented.
I still don’t love this book. I can’t get past how little I like Winston. And Julia. O’Brien is… alright, but overall I feel I need to love at least one character to love the book. I did find the philosophy of the book intriguing, especially with the current state of our country and the fear that’s running rampant… but this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I wanted it to feel revolutionary, but it felt like a small glimpse into a bigger, darker story.