Monday, September 22, 2008

1984 (or, The ORIGINAL "Big Brother": not the game show kind)


The last book that I read this summer was 1984 by George Orwell. It's one of those classics that you'll find constantly referenced throughout your life, in literature, TV (witness the "Big Brother" reality show), movies, and in general conversation. I'd never read it, however, so I felt like it was high time to get on board with this classic, especially since I really enjoy novels of dystopia. It's important to know that 1984 was published in 1949, so Orwell was imagining life thirty-five years from his present time, when the world is divided into three regional groups (Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia) who are constantly at war with each other. Also, in this future society, Big Brother controls Oceania (the region of which Winston, the main character, is a citizen). Everything that Big Brother says is considered to be Absolute, unchanging Truth, so, when something happens that contradicts something Big Brother had said or done in the past, the past is ALTERED to reflect the new truth (although the new truth is considered to have ALWAYS been the truth). Confused yet? How can you change the past, you ask? In 1984, the past is altered by destroying newspaper articles, fabricating photographs, even eliminating people who may have borne witness to the earlier, contradictory facts. The citizenry is also terrorized and brainwashed by fear into refusing to remember contradictions in the leadership. Human memory becomes alterable, then, because absolute loyalty to Big Brother is the highest goal for all of the citizenry. Independent thought is considered Public Enemy #1, which sets the stage for the plot of this novel: Winston, the protagonist, has independent thoughts. Troubling independent thoughts. And the rest you'll have to read for yourself. 4 out of 4 Bananas

4 comments:

El Perro de Gato said...

Sent shivers down my spine, and enjoyment up my brain.

Mrs. Duell said...

I agree with you, el perro de gato. It was indeed a thrilling book! Thanks for your comment.

Sophmore Staci said...

I like the fact that this book was published earlier than it takes place in the story.. Though, I haven't gotten my hands on it yet, reading the review reminds me of the book I read over the summer for school.. I think it was called The Martian Chronicles.. Does that sound familar, Mrs. Duell? I heard it was a classic. And, it was AMAZING when I read it.. You should do a review on that. :] It's very interesting. Seeing that, when you read the book, the author thought that by now, in 2008, we would all be living on Mars, taking over and ruining that planet as we have ruined our own.. Sad, isn't it?

Mrs. Duell said...

Staci, I have not read Martian Chronicles for a long time, but I think that I just may put it on my list because of your recommendation! You know I love books like this, so I think it would be fun to read it and compare with 1984 and some of the other futuristic novels I've been preoccupied with lately. Thanks for the post!