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1984 (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – Unabridged, July 1, 1950
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Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life--the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language--and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"It is probable that no other work of this generation has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness." --Mark Shorer, New York Times, 1949 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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
It's as if Orwell has reached into the future and touched the mood of the present. One can connect with ease Orwell's cautionary dystopia to the depredations of American privacy that have surfaced in just the last couple of years. Much of 1984's quirky "Newspeak"--terms like thoughtcrime, doublethink and Big Brother--have been absorbed into the modern idiom. Among the rarefied collective of the greatest writers the English language has ever known, George Orwell painstakingly crafted a penetrating, prophetic tale, a world within a world, a spiraling ideascape whose tendrils integrate seamlessly with the realities of modern life.
Here's a small sampling of the winged brilliance flanking the reader at every turn:
"He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms - one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended." (p. 22)
"She had a bold, aquiline face, a face that one might have called noble until one discovered that there was as nearly as possible nothing behind it." (p. 66)
"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious." (p. 70)
"But there was still that memory moving round the edges of his consciousness, something strongly felt but not reducible to definite shape, like an object seen out of the corner of one's eye." (p. 122)
"To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one's lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available." (p. 152)
"What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect." (p. 210)
Recommended companion reading:
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
- Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman (1985)
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 :)
Now, in 2017, the fear is here. 1984, the book is in the top ten book sellers this week. Why? Fasicism is upon us. Our rights are being depleted everyday. George Orwell told us, but it took 33 years after 1984 for his predictions to come true. Read on, ye seekers of truth, we need to unite.
Recommended. prisrob 01-25-17
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