Monday, November 17, 2008

1984 by George Orwell

This is one of those books that I have read at least three times, this most recent time being the third, I think. This image is actually the edition of the book that I own. It's so different from some of the others, especially the more modern editions. This is the 1984 edition, which is meaningless, because the book was not a prediction for where we would be in 1984. I just find it interesting.
This is absolutely one of my favorite books ever. It's funny how you can read a book like this and remember things that seem so important to the story, you wonder how you forgot them. Even though I've read this book twice before, I still kept having, "Oh yeah!" moments. The story of Winston Smith and his comrades of the Party, of Oceania and Big Brother, is so compelling, so intricate, it should be read by everyone.
One thing that I wanted to discuss about this book was the fact that in the various prefaces, forwards, afterwords, etc in the different editions they always talk about how Orwell did not mean for the book to be a prediction or prophecy, but a warning. But I think that even more than a warning against the future, he meant it as a warning to open our eyes to the present. So many of the aspects of the control that the Party has over the people of Oceania are things that we experience now. Doublethink is alive and well, but that is only important if you acknowledge it for what it is, and don't let it fool you. Orwell could not have known about the war on terror, but that is exactly the kind of war that the Party wages against its "enemies" Eurasia and Eastasia. An unending war, whose purpose is to create an economy (supplies and weapons), give the people an enemy to hate, and give the government permission to take away freedoms. There are so many other details that you will notice as you read this book - it really is a matter of reading to open your mind. If you've read 1984 before, read it again; and if you've never picked it up, now is a good time.


Charley said...

Though 1984 dragged in places for me, I am so glad I read it. It is such a powerful piece of literature. Have you read Orwell's essay "Shooting an Elephant"?

Jeska said...

I've read Animal Farm, and that's about it for other works by Orwell. I'll have to find out more about his essays.

Rebecca Reid said...

I haven't read 1984 since high school; I'm sure I'm due for a reread! Thanks for the reminder.