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Book #37 – Nineteen Eighty-Four (final thoughts)

October 30, 2009

Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed – no escape. Nothing was you own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull. p. 29

1984

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU

The year is 1984. The Party is in power and Oceania is at war with Eurasia. In fact, the Party has always been in power and Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. From the voice on the telescreen to the newspapers and radio to children’s history books, this is the truth. However, Winston remembers things differently. He’s sure that 20 years ago, when he was a boy, the world around him was different, that the government didn’t control everything. He also knows, without a doubt, that as recently as four years ago, Oceania was not at war with Eurasia, but with Eastasia. But with only the memories in his head, what can he prove? With the Party watching his every move and listening to his every word, how can he attempt to learn the truth? Do his conflicting memories mean he is crazy, or is the world around him that has gone mad?

1984 is a book that I really wanted to love, however, it wasn’t a very consistent read for me. Some parts of it I thought were pretty interesting, and during others I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. But some parts were so boring that I thought my eyes were going to dry up and pop out of my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy reading this, I just didn’t love it.

The premise of the book is creepy and I found the society, not to mention the state of the world, fascinating. Can you imagine having to just take everything that’s told to you at face value and not even being allowed to question it? Especially when you were told something contradictory not even five minutes before? And that whatever evidence of the past is available is what the government has decided to make available? The most frightening part to me was how the government could make people who might be a threat vanish. Not just kill them or take them out of society, but erase them from history, so that they never existed at all.

One reason why I like reading classics like this is because so many elements from it are so engrained in our culture that we don’t even think of where they came from. Unfortunately I’m part of a generation that knows Big Brother as a silly reality show rather than as a sinister, but still comforting, public figure. I think it’s important to read about these references in their original context and be able form an idea of what they’re really supposed to represent. I mean, this isn’t Orwell’s 1984. We have all this literature available to us, we should be taking advantage of it (which is the argument I will use when the discussion of a bigger bookcase comes up with the hubby again).

My rating: 8/10

Back to School Challenge: 2/4 complete

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2009 10:02 am

    This is one of those books & movies that I’ve always meant to read & watch, but somehow have never got around to it. I liked your review-and think I’d probably feel the same way you did about it.

  2. historyofshe permalink
    October 30, 2009 10:46 am

    I’ve always wanted to read this. I’m sorry it wasn’t all you had hoped for!

  3. October 30, 2009 2:18 pm

    Is the BACK TO SCHOOL challenge something you’re doing personally or hosting?

    I read 1984 in school – I think sophomore or junior year? So I don’t really remember if I liked it or not.. but it sure comes up a lot in conversation over the years!

  4. October 30, 2009 2:40 pm

    Colette – I really want to watch the movie now to see what they did with the book.

    historyofshe – You should definitely read it.

    Allison – It’s being hosted by Five Borough Book Review: http://fiveboroughbooks.blogspot.com/2009/09/back-to-school-reading-challenge.html

  5. October 31, 2009 9:08 am

    I had more or less the same reaction to 1984. Parts of it were really interesting, and parts of it, meh, not so much. I like Animal Farm better – have you read that one? Animal Farm makes me laugh.

  6. stacybuckeye permalink
    October 31, 2009 5:13 pm

    This is one that I must read someday, but haven’t felt the urge yet. I agree with you about classics. They are so ingrained in our culture that they ned to be read.

  7. November 1, 2009 10:05 am

    This one is on my reading list, too. I also like to read books that have contributed something to our cultural vernacular. Whenever someone alludes to “Big Brother’ (I dd it on my own blog just the other day!) or Lolita or something, I always think to myself “I really gotta read that so I know the whole story!”

  8. November 7, 2009 2:21 pm

    The thing about 1984 is, it actually seems realistic in a way. In my opinion, the book is light years ahead of its time, and parts of the book seem like metaphors for things we see right now : CCTVs, data records of our ‘net surfing/phone calls, everything being monitored, and the “thought police” taking over.

    It is one of my favourite dystopian novels….

    • November 7, 2009 6:46 pm

      It’s true. I was on the bus yesterday and there was a sign up saying “for your protection there are cameras and microphones installed.” My first thought was “This feels a lot like 1984.” All I’m doing is taking the bus, but still I’m being watched. That Orwell ‘predicted’ these kinds of things in the 1940s is pretty amazing.

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