Amanda's Reviews > Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
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Dec 04, 13

bookshelves: kick-ass, book-club-made-me-do-it, blog
Read in February, 2012, read count: 4

I've put off writing a review for 1984 because it's simply too daunting to do so. I liked 1984 even better after a second reading (bumping it up from a 4 star to a 5 star) because I think that, given the complexity of the future created by Orwell, multiple readings may be needed to take it all in. I thought it was genius the first time and appreciated that genius even more the second time.

Orwell had a daunting task: creating a future nearly half a century away from the time period in which he was writing. This future had to be its own complex, independent society, but it also had to be the natural end result of the totalitarianism Orwell witnessed in the communist and socialist regimes of World War II. That's part of the horror of 1984: this future is a recognizable one, even in the 21st century. It's easy to see how those in control can, through manipulation and propaganda, maintain that control simply for the sake of sating their own power hunger. It's easy to say "no one could ever tell me what to think or what to do," but the Party's use of Big Brother, the Thought Police, the Two-Minute Hate, and Doublethink make it easy to see how a person's ability to think independently and discern fiction from reality can be eroded when there is no touchstone to fact. Revising and rewriting the past to make certain that Big Brother and the Party are always correct has effectively eliminated historical accuracy. How can one think and reason in a society where everything is a fabrication?

Another facet of 1984 that I find fascinating is the relationship between Winston and Julia. Winston claims Julia is a "rebel from the waist down," engaging in promiscuity and hedonistic indulgences forbidden by the Party. She doesn't care about social injustice or defining "reality"; she only longs for what will make her feel good in the moment and only rebels far enough to get what she wants. By comparison, Winston is an intellectual rebel, constantly worrying over the issues of truth and freedom and the real, unvarnished past, but limited in how far he's willing to push the boundaries (until he meets Julia). Together, they make a complete rebellion--physical and mental, but apart they find themselves impotent to stand up to the Party.

A cautionary tale, social commentary, and exemplary example of dystopian fiction, 1984 is one of those perfect novels that not only entertains, but forces one to think about the danger associated with giving any one person or entity too much power or control over our lives--issues well worth consideration in post-9/11 America.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
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Reading Progress

02/01/2010 page 1
0.29% "Re-reading to teach."
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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James Thane Nice review, Amanda. I need to go back and read this book again myself.


Amanda Thanks--this is one of those books that I'd want with me if I'm ever stranded on an island. I could content myself by sipping on coconut milk and repeatedly reading 1984. It's that damn good.


Larry Bassett I remember waiting curiously for many years for it really to be 1984. And then all of sudden it was 1985 and the book was still relevant!


message 4: by Jules (new) - added it

Jules I liked your review. I still can't believe I have never picked up this book to read. The more I live in modern society - the more I should invest time in this classic book.


Amanda Jules wrote: "I liked your review. I still can't believe I have never picked up this book to read. The more I live in modern society - the more I should invest time in this classic book."

Some of the parallels are downright eerie. You'll definitely be paranoid while reading it--so much is still relevant.


Fly To The Sky I read this book for school last August and I felt it was really pointless. Everything just went back to the way it had been and Winston and Julia were no better off. I really hate that I don't like this book because so many people do, but anyways I really liked your review.


Amanda Fly To The Sky wrote: "I read this book for school last August and I felt it was really pointless. Everything just went back to the way it had been and Winston and Julia were no better off. I really hate that I don't lik..."

That's a fair point, but I always thought it added to the horror of the book. We keep waiting for the rebellion, the toppling of the government, the happily ever after. But a government that exerts such complete control over its populace didn't gain its power by having a chink in its armor. That's what is really frightening to me--that the political machine, without even a twinge of conscience, just grinds up and spits out those who dare to break away from the norm.

But, yes, you're right about it being anti-climactic. I'm glad you enjoyed the review, even if you didn't love the book.


Cheryl This is one I've been meaning to read. Your review makes me want to bump it up the list.


message 9: by Sesana (new)

Sesana My thoughts exactly, but written better. It's been years since I read this. I was blown away then, but I bet I'd get more out of it now.


Amanda Cheryl wrote: "This is one I've been meaning to read. Your review makes me want to bump it up the list."

Normally, I try not to force books upon other people, but, yes, yes you should bump this one up! :) Even if you don't like it, you start seeing so many references to it everywhere that are suddenly clarified.


Amanda Sesana wrote: "My thoughts exactly, but written better. It's been years since I read this. I was blown away then, but I bet I'd get more out of it now."

Thanks! The first time I read it, I really liked it but I'm not sure that I loved it until the second reading.


Tammy Great review. Very similar thoughts to my own.


Amanda Tammy wrote: "Great review. Very similar thoughts to my own."

Clearly, great minds do think alike. :) Thank you for the kind compliment.


message 14: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex This has to be ONE of my favorite books and I agree with having this one on a deserted island while sipping coconut milk! That actually made me laugh out loud. Thanks!


Amanda Alex wrote: "This has to be ONE of my favorite books and I agree with having this one on a deserted island while sipping coconut milk! That actually made me laugh out loud. Thanks!"

Glad you enjoyed it!


message 16: by J. (last edited Sep 18, 2013 04:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

J. Keck One of the very chilling verities in this book is: "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."


Amanda J. wrote: "One of the very chilling verities in this book is: "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.""

Absolutely. There are so many lessons in the book that are as applicable today as they were in Orwell's time.


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