14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
One of his best works.
, July 7, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: 1985 (Hardcover)
Two books in one, the first an examination of George Orwell's 1984, the second Burgess' own view of the future.
His analysis of 1984 is spot on as he looks at Orwell's world, (1984 was meant to be titled 1948), his background and motives for writing it. Burgess also looks at all of the worst possible futures scenarios, general social trends and thoughts for the future. His look at youth culture is particularly cutting, but incisive.
Burgess sees 1985 as a world dominated by trade unions and hyper-inflation, western liberal society and values, crumbling before a militant and virile Islam. Western culture is sapped by a dumbing down of educational standards and a destruction of art and culture. All that is offered is in return is increasingly shoddy consumer goods and a despicable popular culture.
The main character, Bev is a former history teacher, who after his wife is burned to death, because fireman would not break a sympathy strike to quell a hospital fire, decides to rebel against the system. Like Winston Smith his rebellion is doomed to failure, but the world is changing and the syndicalist future will collapse under its own weight.
In his own afterword Burgess states that like Orwell he did not take into account the basic commonsense and decency of the working man. This commonsense and decency which would not allow either nightmares to come to pass. 20 years have passed since this book first appeared, and the future is quite different. But our educational standards have been dumbed down, and our freedoms do face a threat from increasingly militant and fanatical fringe groups. A new totalitarianism is possible and indeed imminent so Anthony Burgess' final message is that we must not take for granted our physical and intelectual freedoms.
His section on Workers English is very amusing as he renders the Declaration of Independence and Hamlets Soliquy into the argot of the English working class yob.
Half a book thought provoking in the way of P.J O'Rouke at his best, the ! other half offering what all excellent fiction should do an escape into a credible, but different world.
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