1984 – George Orwell – (book review)

1984, is a dystopian social science fiction novel by the English novelist George Orwell, It was published in June 1949. The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda.

This book managed to be both; fascinating and disturbing at the same time! Throughout the pages, I couldn’t comprehend how spot-on George Orwell was in his predictions. Many passages in this book were scary but also true; as for our world “today”.

Winston, the main character of the novel, lives in a country where individual thought is banned, where only the leader, “Big Brother” is allowed to deliberate and to decide. Rouse by his natural need for reflection and critical analysis, Winston finds it hard not to make use of his inborn talents. He starts questioning the wisdom of Big Brother and moves hopefully toward his own liberation. But in his struggle for liberation he stands alone.

Winston is smarter than many other citizens, but he is also discontent, paranoid, weak-willed and passive-aggressive. He’s not special in any way nor young, attractive or strong. He doesn’t find strength within himself, he doesn’t “save the world”. He tries, he fails. His fellow intellectuals have sold their inalienable right to think freely and a guise of physical well-being. Winston is the last man in Europe, the only human being who wants to use his independent mind.

Winston’s relationship with Julia was tender and a necessary escape from the reality. Unfortunately, their bond is established purely on physical attraction. He treats her like she’s a sex toy. He thought of her as someone with limited intelligence and had to be patiently told each detail that others could immediately comprehend.

Orwell’s novel is a study of every possible way a nation can be beaten down by its government: spiritually, physically, intellectually, by the media, torture, surveillance, and censorship, to the point where the state can manipulate reality at will.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is that of language. It shows how alteration of language can consequently alter thought and how for example the use of adjectives is crucial for being creative and able to use one’s imagination. Orwell also points out that the “simplification” of language affects the mind and its ability to think objectively.

Orwell is one of the smartest writers, reading this book is the best reading experience I’ve had.