1984 by George Orwell

Synopsis taken from Blackwell Bookshop Online:

In “Nineteen eighty-four”, one of the 20th century’s great myth-makers takes a cold look at the future. Orwell’s study of individual struggling – or not struggling – against totalitarianism remains a salutary lesson in any society.

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2 Comments

  1. moirabbc

     /  November 28, 2010

    Yes and it is very sad that when he was writing it, Orwell knew he was nearing the end of his life and he must have felt so disillusioned. The news leaking out of Russia of Stalin’s purges and although I haven’t read ‘Homage to Catalonia’, I believe he was appalled by the wrangling among the different elements opposing Franco. I hope the establishment of the NHS the year before 1984 was published gave him some solace.
    I, too found it rewarding to read a second time and it brought back memories of my first reading, seated in the school library, trying out my new ‘granny’ reading classes – cool or what? As a neo-feminist, I was appalled at the depiction of Julia and her lack of ideology. Now, I can appreciate that Orwell was making a point about the utter joylessness of this totalitarian regime.
    The interrogation of Winston and the description of Room 101 were just as disturbing the second time around. Sadly, the monumental importance of this book has been perverted to stand for the intractability of inhumanity and the impossibility of a fair, just society. What would he have to say about the present world?

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  2. richardbbc

     /  October 25, 2010

    I was sorry to miss the meeting. 1984 was always on reading lists at school and university and while I wasn’t too keen at the thought of having to read it again I was interested to hear what others thought of it, especially those who hadn’t read it before.

    As it turned out I did thoroughly enjoy reading it again. There is I think a power and a conviction in Orwell’s writing that makes it a very compelling read. In a novel ostensibly about the future I was particularly struck by just how much it conveys the sense of what life in London was like during the war and just how much it is concerned with the past. Winston worries constantly about the tenuousness of his memories and how impossible it is to verify what life was like before the Party came to power. This is developed in Winston’s interrogation by O’Brien which is not so much about politics as the nature of reality and perception.

    Once again I found 1984 a depressing read. It is redolent with the expectation of death and offers little in the way of mitigation for, or escape from, the awfulness of the world it describes. It left me as ever with the conviction that under any political system the individual and their aspirations matter not one jot to those in power.

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