Why on earth has it taken me so long to read 1984? I really don’t have an answer to that question but whatever made me buy it recently I am thankful.
1984 is about a dystopian world that is so plausible it sent shivers through my body as I read parts of it, I could sense a world that could so easily be close to our own.
Published in 1949, Orwell set the novel in the totalitarian state Oceania with Big Brother’s surveillance state and craving for power taking over media, rewriting history, removing people from existence and manipulation not just of public opinion but of truth.
It is an absorbing story that hocks you right away as you ponder the fate of the protagonist, Winston Smith and his girlfriend Julia as they attempt to break away from the party rules to freedom. Both Winston and Julia are low level ranking workers in the ‘Party’ and while the main topics covered are the controls of Big Brother it is so much more than that as we are immersed in the lives of Julia and Winston and their attempts to defy Big Brother. You certainly empathize with both characters as they try to rebel against the control of Big Brother in their lives and minds with ‘Thought Crimes’.
Winston and Julia are eventually caught and we are introduced to the lengths Big Brother will go to in order to control every aspect of people’s lives including the torturous Room 101.
For me there are some similarities in 1984 and today, of course the main one being the surveillance and today with 24/7 CCTV, the leaks from Snowden, PRISM, NSA etc on how governments are tapping phones, accessing our internet history etc. I will let you draw your own conclusions on how close we are to 1984.
Another topic covered in the book about Big Brother’s world is the endless war with different enemies – is it possible to draw a conclusion with today’s ‘war on terror’? Does this keep us all in a state of fear and willing to allow governments to legitimize their surveillance on us?
Control of the media in 1984 is necessary and absolute to control the population. Winston’s job is to rewrite the press stories, rewrite people out of history, rewrite facts – so are these facts anymore? Does this resemble what is now known as ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’?
For me, 1984 was deeply troubling and deeply moving.
Have you read it? What did you think of it? Would you consider reading it now? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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