698 of 783 people found the following review helpful
The kind of distressing book you NEED to read...,
This review is from: 1984 (Signet Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Eric Arthur Blair was an important English writer that you probably already know by the pseudonym of George Orwell. He wrote quite a few books, but many believe that his more influential ones were "Animal farm" (1944) and "1984" (1948).In those two books he conveyed, metaphorically and not always obviously, what Soviet Russia meant to him.
I would like to make some comments about the second book, "1984". That book was written near his death, when he was suffering from tuberculosis, what might have had a lot to do with the gloominess that is one of the essential characteristics of "1984". The story is set in London, in a nightmarish 1984 that for Orwell might well have been a possibility, writting as he was many years before that date. Or maybe, he was just trying to warn his contemporaries of the dangers of not opposing the Soviet threat, a threat that involved a new way of life that was in conflict with all that the English held dear.
Orwell tried to depict a totalitarian state, where the truth didn't exist as such, but was merely what the "Big Brother" said it was. Freedom was only total obedience to the Party, and love an alien concept, unless it was love for the Party. The story is told from the point of view of Winston Smith, a functionary of the Ministry of Truth whose work involved the "correction" of all records each time the "Big Brother" decided that the truth had changed. The Party slogan said that "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past", and they applied it constantly by "bringing up to date" the past so as to make it coincide with whatever the Party wanted.
From Winston Smith's point of view, many things that scare us are normal. For example, the omnipresence of the "Big Brother", always watching you, and the "Thought Police" that punishes treacherous thoughts against the Party. The reader feels the inevitability of doom that pervades the book many times, in phrases like "Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you".
Little by little, Winston begins to realize that things are not right, and that they should change. We accompany him in his attempt at subversion, and are unwilling witnesses of what that attempt brings about. This book is marked by hopelessness, but at the same time it is the kind of distressing book we all NEED to read...
Why do we need to read "1984"?. In my opinion, basically for two reasons. To start with, Orwell made in this book many observations that are no more merely fiction, but already things that manage to reduce our freedom. Secondly, and closelly linked to my first reason, this is a book that only gets better with the passing of time, as you can read in it more and more implications. One of Orwell's main reasons for writting this "negative utopia" might have been to warn his readers against communism, but many years after his death and the fall of communism, we can also interpret it as a caution against the excessive power of mass media, or the immoderate power of any government (even those who don't defend communism).
Technological innovation should be at the service of men, and allow them to live better lives, but it can be used against them. I guess that is one of Orwell's lessons, probably the most important one. All in all, I think you can benefit from reading this book. Because of that, I highly recommend it to you :)
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Showing 1-10 of 41 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 17, 2006 5:04:51 PM PST
Communism has been replaced with Terrorism as the big threat. Mass media is the tool the establishment used to goad us into forgetting the mistakes of our recent past,(Vietnam) and now we're stuck in another unwinnable war. All those 100's of billions of dollars wasted on death, destruction and war profiteers. Eisenhower warned of the potential the Military Industrial Establishment had to control the nation. Warning nothing as far as I can tell, that train left the station 3 years ago !
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2006 5:04:47 AM PST
Arvestl Lars says:
"Communism has been replaced by terrorism" has nothing to do with this book. It was written in another era and has no connections with modern terrorism unless retardedly far-fetched which anyway was never the point orwell ment to spread.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2007 1:23:58 AM PST
A. Lynn says:
I think what that person meant was that the book still is apt today because even though we aren't facing the threat of communism; and everything that entails; we are facing the perceived threat of terrorism. This new threat is causing our government to act in a way that is similar to that of the government in 1984. Big Brother is watching us... so to speak. Freedom Act?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2007 7:14:02 PM PDT
I disagree, Amber. Based on the radical leftward shift of the mainstream media, the new threat of terrorism is causing THE MEDIA to act in a way that is similar to that of the government in 1984.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2007 9:27:26 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 9, 2007 5:55:06 AM PDT]
Posted on May 15, 2007 4:25:28 PM PDT
Humberto Mejia says:
Totalitarism is the name of the game. forget all those "Comumunism has been replaced by terrorism".. in 1984 they were terrorist as well, some prefabricated to justify the "defense status", others generated from within the discontemp of the memebers of the society.
In the book, the darkest message comes from the seduction of revolting agaist the terrible establishment by what-ever-means-necessary... a seduction that numbs down all rationality.. its acceptance is what ultimatly brings down Winston and his lady friend down... they were not better in intention than its captors, so the establishment considered them a a case in need of social hygene.. they were spared and re-conditioned, this is the terrible ending and moral of the story
Posted on Oct 9, 2007 11:14:23 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 9, 2007 11:14:43 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2007 6:17:56 AM PDT
A. Siering says:
That's not true at all. It doesn't matter what the war is as long as it is indefinite. Both the "Cold War" and the "War on Terror" are metaphorical realities and not realities of fact. You can't, for example, literally wage war against a technique like terrorism, even if ignoring the contradiction that such a technique will need be, sooner or later, employed itself in pursuit of such an end.
In this sense, then, both communism and terrorism are the same thing.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2007 6:34:20 AM PDT
A. Siering says:
I also reject the notion that what "Orwell meant to spread" is of any relevance here. A successful story is an argument that mimics the reasoning process of the human mind. It's conclusion lays at the center, but is never explicitly stated. That is the story looks at the conclusion in several dimensions but never explicitly states that conclusion.
You are mistaken on every count your bring up, Lars. The book might have been written in another era but it bespeaks a truth that is very much connected to this or any other time. That's the thing about a good story-- or should I say a successful story. If the author is significantly clever then he can argue from his premiss to a valid conclusion, if that premiss was true to begin with. Even if he believes he is starting with a conclusion, as it seems that Orwell may have, he can still through the power of the argument in the story reach a different and unintended conclusion that is valid based on his premiss, assuming that premiss was true.
The important thing to consider is the argument that constitutes the novel and not the author's intentions. In this sense I am not sure 1984 advocates what so many people, including Orwell, might believe that it does advocate.
It strikes me as much more of an existential novel than a political one.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2007 8:39:06 AM PDT
Caesar M. Warrington says:
1984 is one of my favorite books. I enjoyed your very well done and insightful review.