With a book this popular that has been beaten to death in every literary way possible, how does one talk about it in a simple book blog post?
I tend to just focus on my own reading experience. I used to live for these satirical, dystopian, cautionary authors, and have found a lot of the classic titles for free on Audible. It’s been a great way to refresh my memory on these amazing books that I read so long ago.
Especially today with everything and it’s mother being referred to as “Orwellian”, I think it’s a relevant time to re read 1984. I probably hear that phrase at least twice a week on the news and laughed recently when the last indie dystopian book that I read used it.
Anyway ~ the other reason I picked 1984 up now is that I’m trying to read as many books as possible set in London before I go in March! With how Russian-esque this book is, I completely forgot it took place in London.
So, about 1984 itself. One of the things that I liked most reading it as an adult was the linguistic portion, especially the appendix at the end where he explains the principles of Ingsoc (English Socialism). To me language is the most essential part of anything, and I strive to expand my knowledge daily. In reverse, stripping language away so that people don’t even have the words to express dissent, could accomplish the means of The Party moreso than anything else. Duckspeak, UnGood, Double Plus UnGood … Yeah, I definitely like that aspect the most and think the new language is most unique thing Orwell wrote.
I’ve also never thought of war as a way to blow excess resource and manpower so that no one else can have it. One of the many things that made me go “hmmm”
I almost feel like Doublethink is real these days too. Everything in America has two polarities right now and often times it gives me a headache. Ex: I’m a nurse, I know my science, but then people scream opposing ideas at me for years and I know it’s plain stupidity but it’s almost enough to dissociate at times. There are tons of examples of this & I can see where Winston’s mind just fractured under torture.
Some other places where I’ve seen 1984 in modern action besides the daily news are …. Star Trek! The Next Generation, I had to look up the episode but remember when Picard was captured and tortured but refused to say that 2+2 didn’t equal 4? Season 6, Episodes 10 and 11, highly recommend. I also think (vaguely) and I can’t prove this but when I first heard Team America’s Dicks, Pussies, and Assholes speech, that it was based on 1984′s ‘three classes of people’ concept.
Back to the book… I do definitely think it’s a relevant cautionary tale and that it should continue to be read in schools. Governments are trying to tell us everything like what cars to drive and how to cook, and certain factions of society are trying to force the rest of us to think a certain way and accept certain lifestyles… Everything is just so polarized. It’s relevant.
Broadly speaking, it’s also just a well written book. Slightly predictable but an enjoyable read, chilling at times, and makes me think. I remember tuning out in high school when we got to the super long chapter about reading the book, and I did it again as a 30 something. Otherwise I really do think it’s a fine overall read.
Tl:DR: overall, this is one of the more readable classics and I absolutely think it stays relevant today. I used to live for this group of satirical & cautionary authors and 100% still enjoy reading it today. Going back via audio was a great choice to refresh my memory and experience it slightly differently than the first time around.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: 1984
- Series: N/A
- Author: George Orwell
- Released: 1949
- Length: 339 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for everyone!
Here’s the (I believe original) synopsis:
The new novel by George Orwell is the major work towards which all his previous writing has pointed. Critics have hailed it as his “most solid, most brilliant” work. Though the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four takes place thirty-five years hence, it is in every sense timely. The scene is London, where there has been no new housing since 1950 and where the city-wide slums are called Victory Mansions. Science has abandoned Man for the State. As every citizen knows only too well, war is peace.
To Winston Smith, a young man who works in the Ministry of Truth (Minitru for short), come two people who transform this life completely. One is Julia, whom he meets after she hands him a slip reading, “I love you.” The other is O’Brien, who tells him, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” The way in which Winston is betrayed by the one and, against his own desires and instincts, ultimately betrays the other, makes a story of mounting drama and suspense.
A Quick Note on the audio: the version I listened to was by 11h22m by Blackstone Audio, narrated by Simon Prebble. I think he’s a great narrator for the story and gave a wonderful performance of equal parts hope & horror.