WAR IS PEACE.
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
Winston Smith does not know what year it is when he sits down to write his diary. He thinks it’s 1984, but he can’t be sure. The past has been edited and rewritten so many times that the current date and year of Oceania can be hard to trace. In fact it’s Winston’s job to help rewrite the past, by updating newspapers and media everytime the Party demands it.
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
But one day he buys a book made of real paper and he sits down to write it, hidden away from the telescreen that can spy on him at any given moment. He feels like something is wrong, but he’s not sure what, so he simply starts writing. And nothing more would ever have happened if he hadn’t met Julia who passes him a note with the words “I love you.”
Not much can be said about the plot of this book. Orwell was a journalist by trade and much of the book bears the feel of someone reporting something already existing. The characters are somewhat flat and one gets a sense that the events taking place could happen to pretty much anybody. The real crux of the book is the political aspect. Orwell is a master at analyzing fascism and the tools of fascism. In nineteen eighty-four he digs into the heart of the matter; language as a political tool.
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
This is of course what keeps this book ever-relevant as our societies are constructed by the languages we speak and the words we choose. The theme of writing and language pervades the book, both in seeing writing as truth as well as a tool for crafting reality.
The book is an engrossing book that will, hopefully, make you mad and make you want to DO SOMETHING. In nineteen eighty-four, Orwell manages to capture the worst fears of society while at the same time holding hope that the proletariat can rise up and change it.
“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face–forever.”
CBR10 Bingo: Banned Books