1984 By George Orwell

1984 By George Orwell Dystopian Fiction Book Review

Title: 1984, Author: George Orwell,  Pages: 384, ISBN: 9780141187761, First Published on: 8th June 1949

1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian classic. In fact it's THE dystopian classic. Even if you've not actually read it  you will have more than likely heard of Big Brother, The Thought Police and Room 101. 1984 was incredibly ahead of it's time, so much so that modern life shares many parallels with this book that was written in 1948.It's a book that everyone quotes but I  think very few have read.

It's a book that many start but never finish and I think that is down to Orwell's writing style. Orwell spends a lot of time going into detail and explaining things in long winded terms that perhaps would be done more succinctly if it was written now.  I think the modern reader would find this book over explanatory, almost as if it spoon feeds the reader and doesn't trust them to use their own initiative. This leads to me question whether Orwell intended this as a nod towards The Thought  Police or if it's merely reflective of the literature at the time?

The book is unsurprisingly set is 1984, having gone past 1984 it's worth viewing this book as taking place in 'the future' rather than a specific date. The future is divided into 3 distinct nations, each battling for control of the other- or so it seems? Oceania, which is where the story takes place is overseen by Big Brother and The Party. All members of society must adhere to a set of principles set forward by Big Brother. These principles ensure a safe, happy and harmonious society- don't they? Any deviations or abnormalities must be dealt with and eradicated. It's the only way and it's for the greater good. Isn't it?

The story has an unassuming main character in Winston Smith. He is representative of the reader and we relate to him because we share the same thoughts as him. He is us. He represents the every day people.  I like Smith but he's not my favourite. My favourite character is O'Brien, a psychologically complex character that contrasts with Smith to demonstrate how thought control manifests. Both these characters are vital to the message Orwell is trying to send. 

The novel looks at various political aspects; who has power? how do they come to possess this power? and how do they maintain this power? It also explores the reliability of the media and the trust we place in media sources. The novel is also credited as foreseeing social media. The concept that 'Big Brother is watching you' is almost obsolete. We have become Big Brother, we're all watching each other.  

The first time I read this book I was entranced. The parallels between Oceania and modern life were unnerving but still reassuringly far enough away to be classed as dystopian. I was about 15 at the time. I re-read this book every few years and with every read I see more and more of our modern lives reflected in it's pages. I've enjoyed reading it in previous years but this year it's a little too close to the bone. What was once 'the future' feels more like the present and although modern life isn't as restrictive as Winston's,  living through a pandemic in which a corrupt government  dictate where we can and can't go is uncomfortably close to Orwell's predictions. I know that our current restrictions are to keep us safe but isn't that what The Party would say? (Please note: I absolutely believe in Coronavirus and it's devastating impact and I believe we are being restricted in our best interests but I'm just playing devil's advocate and relating it to the book). A pandemic created by the government to force the public to behave as required is very Orwellian in nature and quite unnerving. 

It's a fantastic book that was amazingly ahead of it's time, I loved it when I first read it but it's been a less enjoyable read this time around. I'm really looking forward to re-reading it a couple of years time to see how the parallels with modern life have changed. I'm hoping our sense of freedom has returned and I can visit Oceania again as a tourist rather than feeling like a local. 

Thanks For Reading,


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7 comments:

  1. I really loved that book. I only read it as an adult, somehow having missed it at school.

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  2. I should read that again. I recall preferring Animal Farm, but I actually read this in 1984! So it's been awhile... cheers #KCACOLS

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  3. This is a must read, I will attempt it at some point xx #KCACOLS

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  4. I've never actually read this one! When I get the time again I'll put it on my list #KCACOLS

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  5. I went through a stage of trying to read as many of the classics as I could. I read some Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen etc but never quite made it to George Orwell. I definitely feel like it's a book I ought to read! #KCACOLS

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  6. I've only read 1984 by Orwell but this one sounds just as powerful. I need to read more classics (Does Orwell count as a classic? Does to me!). Thanks for the recommendation!

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  7. Kingfisher33338 April 2021 at 13:45

    I remember reading this book in my teens. Great review of a classic!

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