Aaron's Reviews > 1984

1984 by George Orwell
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Dec 15, 08

bookshelves: fiction
Read in April, 1998

** spoiler alert ** Orwell's now classic novel about a world in the grip of insanity. He wrote this in 1948 (from which he derived the title) and was trying to illustrate a potential future in light of the hysteria, fear, and fascism of his day. The world has been carved up by three superpowers who constantly battle supposedly for the last scraps of contested land, but ultimately because constant warfare is the essence of their very existence. Orwell illustrates the mindset that people must adopt in order to survive in this hostile, suspicious world, and through this shows that the human mind and will are much more pliable and flimsy than anyone would like to think. Perhaps more for that reason than anything this book is considered the definitive "dystopia" as it shows people deprived of their humanity, and pushed to the point of willingly surrendering it.

This books should still be a standard in American classrooms, if only for the way it portray gross semantic distortions (for political purposes). Notably, Smith says, "How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four." And he is told in response, "Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."
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