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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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1984 Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Today Kellyanne Conway announced that we were given alternate facts. Shades of changing the past and controlling the present
Get ready to party like it's 1984
Another worthwhile book is "A Nation of Sheep" by William J. Lederer
But this superficial reading of the book, whereby we comfort ourselves with the fact that we drink Bombay Sapphire rather than Victory Gin, is tragically naive and misguided. In fact every basic concept, every philosophical and political development Orwell addressed in his book has come to pass almost exactly as described.
Orwell analyzed the way people driven by the need for power actually think. This is the most useful insight in his book, delivered by the Grand Inquisitor O’Brien:
“The Party seeks power entirely for it’s own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury, or long life or happiness: only power, pure power … 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 to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture … How does one man assert his power over another? … By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering how can you be sure he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”
To this bleak vision the battered and terrified Winston Smith has one reply: “Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat you. Life will defeat you.”
Of course in the novel it is Winston Smith who is defeated and obliterated, after learning to love Big Brother. The story is unrelenting, a harsh tragedy in which the human spirit is crushed, and the future is too horrible to contemplate. The good guys lose. They are forced to betray their deepest beliefs and emotions, gutted of their souls and left to wander the streets like hollow eyed ghosts. Evil wins, over and over again, with a shriek of glee and blare of military music. The book ought to be profoundly depressing
And yet it isn’t. Just the opposite: it’s uplifting, thrilling. It’s a form of meta-text: the fact that you are reading the book at all, the fact that the book was written and published, confounds the darkness of its message. Winston Smith knows no one will ever read his journal … but people will be reading the novel that contains it for as long as books exist. The authors of the Newspeak dictionary exult in the destruction of language; the mandarins of the inner Party continuously dismantle all passion and morality and truth. But the novel itself, with its vivid prose and ferocious probity creates an exhilaration, a giddy hope in the reader that its characters can never share. A masterpiece. Read it. If you've already read it, read it again.
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