Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nineteen Eighty-Four

I read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four in the last months of 2013. This is one of the classics on my list to read.

What struck me the most about Nineteen Eighty-Four was that it was clear when it was published, and even for decades afterwards, that it was a reflection on communism in Russia. But as a modern reader, I think that this futurist horror story is far more broadly applicable. The control of information is terrifying, particularly the manipulation of historical records and even journalism. Society in Oceania is also highly regulated, which our current society is increasingly becoming. Even the language was being reduced down to official language that took away expression, and perhaps the increasing use of acronyms in certain circles of our own society is another reflection of this.

   I think this is a book for all ages, all times, and the name could continually be changed to be twenty or thirty years ahead of the reader, and it would still be so relevant. It points our the dangers of authoritarianism, the degradation of the individual, and what can happen when power is completely taken away by dictators. The complete terror that Winston is living in, the terror that has kept him compliant all his life, is palpable. Then the terror of the torture and the reeducation is also teeth-grindingly present.
   The writing is beautiful. It is not difficult, it is not cliche, it is not preaching, and it probably rewards the reader with something new every time it is picked up. I can't wait to read this again. A true masterpiece.

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