Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia
“Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. 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 re-named, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. ”
1984 is a very famous and well-known book by the author George Orwell. 1984 is a dystopian science fictiony book based in the future where the Party, Ingsoc, is ruling with Big Brother as it’s figurehead. Our main character Winston is not your average party member, he has his own thoughts, he has questions about the way the party does things and he doesn’t necessarily agree with them all. Throughout the book, Winston finds a companion in Julia, a fellow party member who also doesn’t agree with the Partys principles. We follow Julia and Winston’s journey as they defy Big Brother so that they can maintain a piece of their individuality and privacy in a world that does not know the meaning of these two concepts.
The story is told from a view which narrates what Winston is doing. We don’t necessarily get a look into the lives of the other characters such as Julia or O’Brien or any of the other supporting characters throughout the story. I guess this means that when the unexpected surprises happened in the book as a reader we were surprised along with Winston, which does add to the shock factor of the book. However, it would be interesting to see other characters viewpoints on what is going on and what they’re thinking, particularly O’Brien who is an inner party member and plays the double act so well.
George Orwell is a British writer who wrote this particular book in the early 1900s. He tends to write political books with very strong ideas and very strong themes that make the reader question what their viewpoint would be on certain matters. Overall his writing is pretty descriptive and is well flowing and the entire concept behind Big Brother is definitely very interesting.
I really didn’t have a favourite character in the book. I felt quite disconnected from the characters and there is definitely a 'looking in' perspective. I was rooting for Winston and Julia however you know as well as them that this isn’t going to last also it’s very very difficult to feel empathy towards them. Also, their experiences weren’t relatable because it was so extreme and so different to what we experience as normal life. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the story or the concept, it was just very difficult to relate to the feelings of the characters because honestly, I don’t think I have ever been in a situation that Winston has ever been in and I’m not sure if I would have an experience such as his in the near future. Again it’s the same question with a least favourite character. I didn’t have a least favourite character because again I just felt that the characters were not as well connected to the reader for you to have an opinion about the characters. For me, this entire book was mainly focused on the concept of Big Brother and Ingsoc and of having this kind of political party take over and run a country. There was a lesser focus on the individual player and a higher focus on the overall 'game'.
My favourite part of the book was definitely when Winston and Julia were beginning their romance and Winston is beginning to grow a backbone in terms of supporting and voicing the ideas he has in his head about the war and about the party and I think Julia has a big influence on this. She is slightly more naive because she was younger when the Revolution took place but I think she bought out the best in Winston and I think for Winston, Julia remains very significant throughout the book right up to the end she is an important part of his thoughts his feelings and also his will to go on. My least favourite part of the book was when Winston was reading from the book that Goldstein had created. In this part of the story, Winston simply reads chapters and chapters of very heavy political ideology which completely takes away from what was going on in the story and honestly for me this bit was where I lost interest and where the book started to drag. Before this, I was very invested in the story of Winston and Julia and I thought that the ideology of big brother was very interesting. I think that the author could have portrayed this sequence in a different way rather than just making a character read something for a very large portion of the book. I read this on my kindle so I just felt like I was going through a lot of pages of this background information that wasn’t necessary strictly speaking but it could’ve been a lot less it just felt like it was never-ending.
Overall the book was fascinating, I think the concept of Big Brother and the concept of complete and utter loyalty to a political party in a very controlled future is very interesting. I particularly liked the idea of editing the past which the party did if the news had changed or if statistics had been misquoted so that they were not seen as making a mistake. They would ask a member of the records department, in this case, one of them was Winston, who would then go back into previous editions of a newspaper where the figure was reported and change this so it lined up with the current news. I think this was very clever and Winston is often saying that there is no mention of the past; everything has been changed and altered so that when the party alters the original records they then become the new record which then becomes the past so that was very interesting. It was a different level of censorship which did make you think a lot about records, perspectives and the effectiveness of how well we remember something. It makes you think that what if everything that has been recorded and is seen as fact is not actually as precise and therefore you can manipulate your memories to remember what you think is the correct memory when in fact the past is a completely different version of the truth?
This book originally started off as quite interesting and I was very intrigued in the wider Big Brother concept and Winston's experience of that world which had been presented by the author. I really enjoyed this part of the book and I read it quite fast. As I mentioned above, the book started dragging when Winston had to read out chapters from Goldstein's manifesto which was just pages and pages of political ideology which did make the book quite heavy. Although the story picked up after this I don’t think I fully recovered in terms of the pace of the book. I just wanted it to be over because it had been such a heavy read already, and I didn’t think I could then read another 3-4 chapter on a completely different part of the story.
The concept of the big brother is very unique and I haven’t read anything similar. Obviously, reality TV shows like Big Brother itself have taken the idea of an all-seeing eye from this book. This book was written so long ago it was almost predicting the future which although we don’t have telescreens in our houses which would report everything to the government, we do have a large number of surveillance cameras and we are now going into the area of smart homes where devices are continuously listening and there is a lot of emphasis on privacy which I think is really important. I also think that’s what the political party in the novel was lacking; they didn’t consider the privacy of the individual to be very important.
The ending of the book was quite surprising really, it was a wild moment for me in the sense that I wasn’t shocked but I was also quite shocked by what had happened and how the story had ended. It just goes to show that in that dystopian world when the party want something, they always get what they want. Definitely a very fitting end.
As somebody who did a module in privacy and data protection during my final year at university, this book was recommended by not only lecturers but peers and friends, and I am so glad I did finally get around to reading it. I would recommend this book, I think it’s really nice for people to get a different view on the idea of privacy and the idea of politics in terms of keeping an eye on everyone and whether loyalty to a party is allowed to be questionable and how this affects freedom of speech, right to privacy and other such concepts. I think it’s definitely a very interesting read like I said you should be prepared that the middle section of the book is quite dreary and therefore will drag but if you can get past that part, it’s a very interesting story. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy science fiction dystopian books. I wouldn't recommend it for young adults or for those people who very light summer reads. This book is a heavy read, it is an intense book, it’s not one you take to the beach. If you want to book that’s going to make you question the world you live in and the politics behind this, then this is definitely a very very good read for you.