Monday, 20 June 2011

1984 by George Orwell

1984 (or Nighteen Eighty-Four) by George Orwell
First published in 1945 (this edition published by Penguin Books in 2008)

Description (from Goodreads):
'It was a bright cold day in april, and the clocks were striking thirteen.'

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal.
When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent.

Ninteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.

My thoughts:
I have been wanting to read a book by George Orwell for a few years but decided to read one now mainly because of the fact that I am participating in the Author A-Z Challenge this month and realised I had not read any books by authors whose surname begins in O. I was definitely planning on reading one of his books this year, but the time came sooner rather than later. And, as I am obviously not the smartest crayon in the box, I started with the long and more difficult of his two books that I own, 1984 (the other being the infinitely more manageable, Animal Farm).

Regardless, I really enjoyed reading this book. It is very, very political, and, even though I am not a great one for politics (they bore me), I found myself wanting to read more and more of it, to find out what happens. The main character in this book is Winston Smith, a man in his late thirties, who works for the Ministry of Truth (also known as Mini-true). He goes to work everyday, makes all the changes to documents he is told to make (by a weird device on his desk which seems to sprout out papers) and then goes back to his house, and is constantly under the surveillance of  a telescreen. The story takes place in London, which is now the biggest city on Airstrip One and a part of Oceania. (Yes, I did say Oceania.) There, he begins a little rebellion of his own, as he purchases a diary and a pen without anyone knowing (from a prole - proletarian - store) and sits in the only place in his apartment where the telescreen cannot see him.

At some point, he meets Julia. At first, he hates her, because she embodies all that he finds wrong with the system. But, gradually, things start to come to the surface, that he ends up falling in love with her. It turns out that Julia is a lot more complex than he previously thought. I have to say, while reading about her, I did experience a certain admiration towards her character, as to how she managed to live what was essentially a double life.

The most interesting part of the novel is, by far, the third one. I am not going to tell you what it's about, but it gives you a certain understanding of the order of things. People are not who they seem to be, while certain places are used to 'cure' people of ideas in any way possible. In this part, we get to find out how the system really works and why it works in such a way and I found it very interesting.

Another part of the book I really enjoyed reading (though I don't usually) was the appendix, which explained the principles of Newspeak. It was so interesting to find out exactly how the author came up with the language, how he justified all the changes. I finished reading the book at nearly 3am, but kept on reading about the principles, because once I started, I couldn't stop!

In one sentence? George Orwell is one hell of an author! Lovely prose indeed. Will definitely be reading Animal Farm soon!

Rating: 8/10 (only because I found it difficult finishing some chapters, as they were a little too long)

Eric Arthur Blair, better known with his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. According to Wikipedia, his work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism. He wrote fiction, poetry, polemical journalism and literary criticism. He is best known for the two books mentioned in this review, the dystopian 1984 and the satirical novella Animal FarmHis other novels include Keep The Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up For Air. He died in 1950, at the age of 46.

You can find out more about George Orwell HERE.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011, Dystopia Challenge


  1. The sections that were purely about the politics of the war bored me a little too but it's such an influencial book, I think anyone interested in dystopian fiction or film should read it.

  2. I've been wanting to read this for ages! Hopefully I can get a copy one day.

    Is this the book with a whole chapter which is just thoughts as somebody is going to sleep -or something-?

    This one sounds like a really good read and I will get to it one day!


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