Book #13-1984 by George Orwell

This was a disturbing book, not only, as expected, due to its forewarnings, but to its very graphic details especially with regards to human sufferings.

I did enjoy the book more so on this my second time around.  Perhaps this is because I fear the apathy of many of today’s citizens as similar to those characters found in 1984. Julia, the main character’s lover, admits she does not remember or care to remember events of the past, even those that occurred only 4 years earlier.  With our cell phones, EZ pass and GPS, we can be sure that Big Brother is already watching us!!!

Winston Smith, the main character, begins as a bored citizen of Ocenia editing yesterday’s news.  He tempts fate and begins a diary, then an outlawed love affair and evolves from a curious man to an overly informed prisoner, all under the televised watch of BB (Big Brother).  Other characters are very well developed; Syme, his pedantic co-worker, goes missing, Parsons, his extremely apathetic neighbor, shows up in jail and O’Brien, an inside party member, turns out not to be an ally.

Halfway through the novel, there is a chapter where Winston is reading a secreted book which essentially describes the society he is now living in.  It was a long chapter and did not include descriptions as to how Winston felt about what he was reading.  To make matters worse, parts of the secret book are “reread” to Julia, who somewhat like me, had fallen asleep during its reading.  I must confess, I was tempted to skip over this and move on, however, I did not which was wise as without this knowledge, I may have misunderstood much of the remaining chapters.  I don’t believe an editor of today would let this stand, but would have broken it up with some dialogue or general thoughts.

Another disappointment was the lack of closure with regards to Winston’s long lost family.  While there were some flashbacks including his mother and baby sister, there was not a feeling of completeness leaving the reader very curious.  This unknowing may have been intentional and I feel it was, however, it made me feel frustrated, but perhaps that too was deliberate.

The novel’s ending (I will not give it away) left me dismayed.  Again, this may have been Mr. Orwell’s intention, however, it ran in contrast with some of the other extremely descriptive sections of the book.  With such an important message to deliver, the ending should have had more of a punch, but I again feel the frustration and confusion were the desired result.

Chatting with Mr. Orwell would be a treat I am sure.  I’d love to ask him about his days with the Burmese Imperial Police and his transition to writing.  Sitting on both sides of the proverbial fence gave him an insight that is quite evident in 1984.  Since wiling away the hours with George Orwell is not a possibility, I think I’d like to read a biography of his very interesting life and far left political views.


…All the while that they were talking the half-remembered rhyme kept running through Winston’s head:  Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s, You owe me three farthings say the bells of St. Martin’s!  It was curious, but when you said it to yourself you had the illusion of actually hearing bells, the bells of a lost London that still existed somewhere or other disguised and forgotten..  From one ghostly steeple after another he seemed to hear them pealing forth.  Yet so far as he could remember he had never in real life heard church bells ringing.

…Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, very date has been altered.  And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute.  History has stopped…

…For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away…

…And if the facts say otherwise, then the facts must be altered.  Thus history is continuously rewritten…

My rating for 1984 is a 7 out of 10.

If you’d like to see the entire list, please visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

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Next up, Robert Graves’ I, Claudius



Filed under 1984

4 responses to “Book #13-1984 by George Orwell

  1. I loved this novel in high school, and I believe I need to read it again now that my palate has changed. I do not remember the tough bits, only the lasting impression it has left on me.

    Thank you for your review. Double plus good.

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