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1984 (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – Unabridged, July 1, 1950
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"Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere."
The year is 1984; the scene is London, largest population center of Airstrip One.
Airstrip One is part of the vast political entity Oceania, which is eternally at war with one of two other vast entities, Eurasia and Eastasia. At any moment, depending upon current alignments, all existing records show either that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, or that it has always been at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia. Winston Smith knows this, because his work at the Ministry of Truth involves the constant "correction" of such records. "'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"
In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party's official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime--in 1984, George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian control that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly, he has portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia. In our deeply anxious world, the seeds of unthinking conformity are everywhere in evidence; and Big Brother is always looking for his chance. --Daniel Hintzsche --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Novel by George Orwell, published in 1949 as a warning about the menaces of totalitarianism. The novel is set in an imaginary future world that is dominated by three perpetually warring totalitarian police states. The book's hero, Winston Smith, is a minor party functionary in one of these states. His longing for truth and decency leads him to secretly rebel against the government. Smith has a love affair with a like-minded woman, but they are both arrested by the Thought Police. The ensuing imprisonment, torture, and reeducation of Smith are intended not merely to break him physically or make him submit but to root out his independent mental existence and his spiritual dignity. Orwell's warning of the dangers of totalitarianism made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and the book's title and many of its coinages, such as NEWSPEAK, became bywords for modern political abuses. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Hardcover 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.