Thursday, July 27, 2006 George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell... is a highly antagonistic book of a totalitarianism government in a time of instability. BigBrother and ThoughtPolice constantly monitor all citizens of Oceania with telescreens and if people oppose the party, they were killed. The plot focuses around Winston Smith and the women he later falls in with (Julia) as they begin to realize the truth, quietly defy the party in any small ways they can, and eventually must struggle against the most terrible brainwashing of all.

Parts of the novel seem to be able to link to everyday life governments and their actions within their countries, and more and more nations are using their own form of doublespeak to make deep or embarrassing mistakes, or jobs seem less so by re-arranging the words. (ie: local Garbageman= negative connotation, Regional Trash Collector= important/respectful connotation)

I learned the author - George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, born on 1903 in Bengal/India. Although his family moved to England when he was very young, he returned to Burma to work for British Imperial Police, which later resigned and moved back to London to pursue career in writing. author's preferred title The Last Man in Europe was regretted by publisher. I read author didn't object and suggested to change 1980 but since writing took longer than expected he changed it 1982 and than to 1984. popular belief is that author switched two last digit of the year he wrote (1948) but some believe it may also have been an allusion to the centenary of the Fabians socialist organization founded in 1884.

Must admit this book is very difficult to read. Not sure Why must the most interesting books are boring read. It took quite an effort for me to finish this book. While the concepts flow brilliantly, the writing style becomes a turn off, with many lengthy paragraphs, sentence structure and vocabulary sometimes went over my head, I found it challenging to read it for long periods of time.
Interesting to share - while talking to greece/poland/czech friend they remember USSR years and consider this book as prophecy not fiction novel.

After fighting his way to the highest rung of German power, Hitler began inspiring massive support for his warped idealism. Using patriotism, swastikas, genocide, the incineration of historical documents and a mobilization of forces throughout Europe, his dictatorship became the woe of the twentieth century. A stain of darkness stretched across the world, and his legacy undoubtedly inspiration for this classic novel, 1984.

1984 revolves around
3 'superstates' which are Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. All of these states are in a constant state of war with one another, yet all are self contained, and require no trade with one another, and therefor do not require war as a means of economical necessity. However, it is their feeling that as long as a constant state of war is prevailing, the people will be too preoccupied with the war effort to worry about whether or not the present political system is working. The government constantly reminds the people that when they win the war, Oceania will rule the world, and life will be better. So therefor, as long as the war is going (as it always will be), peace within the states can prevail.
Another interesting characteristic I noticed about the book, was the fact that he only revealed to the reader the full names of only three characters in the book. The book features the main character, Winston Smith, who is a man in his late 30's and a member of the 'outer party' - the lower of the two classes. Winston Smith works for the government in one of the four main government buildings called the Ministry of Truth where his job is to rewrite history books in order for people not to learn what the past used to be like. As the book is beginning, Winston begins to contemplate setting himself against Big Brother and the Party, but of course is reluctant, knowing that even thinking about such a thing could easily result in his death. The three sentences sum up what the party stands for, and they are:
"War is Peace"
"Freedom is Slavery"

"Ignorance is Strength"
All appear to be oxymoron's, but make some sense once the reader has progressed through the book, for example, the term "War is Peace" has a simple, but somewhat complex explanation.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the last half of the novel is Orwell's blunt answer to the question of why. Winston has read a book describing how the Party stays in power, but he is plagued by the question of why. When he asks O'Brien this question, the answer is as blunt as could be imagined: power for the sake of power. And we are confronted, not with some abstract homily about absolute power, but the reality of complete and utter social power perpetuating itself, confident of its own immortality. There should be tears in our eyes at the ending, for different reasons than Winston's tears, as Winston sits in the Chestnut Tree, thinking about how much he loves Big Brother.

to quote few the book:
  • Big Brother is always watching
  • Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
  • Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.
  • It's the one thing they can't do. They can make you say anything - anything - but they can't make you believe it.
words like "Thought Police" and "Big Brother" have almost become part of western culture. I really didn't know what those terms meant until I read this book.

Important thing to remember while reading 1984 is the book never intended to be a prediction of the future. It was satire of political fiction. however, book capture the right track concerning future possibilities of a New World Order, or total government control. may be Orwell's hope in writing the book was to warn people of political warning signs he saw. In an age when more and more of our everyday activities are being scrutinized, Big Brother may not be so far off after all.

Reading this book on back of my trip to Germany(visiting hitler's camps,..) made me questions about freedom, free speech, responsiblities of human being..

atleast attempt to read 1984, It's worth the effort...

click here online eBook Source: 1984 by George Orwell


Dew Drops said...

what amused me the most is that how convincingly the author transforms Winston to a "comrade" at the end!!!!!!

iamyuva said...

yap.. ending had to be as it was, because without Winston admitting that he loved Big Brother, he would have kept on being defied and his attempts at individuality and difference would all be quashed by the undeniable loyalty to Big Brother that everybody around him shared.

BUT call me stupid - I like fairytale endings. if only winston would have been the hero and change the system - would be have been more upbit.. do you think? _))

thanks for visiting...

Anil P said...

Agreed. Reading 1984 can be a challenge!