Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And at the same time as 1984 has come and gone, his dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to keep an eye on the narrative is timelier than ever…
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is at all times watching…
A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
“Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there looked to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered all over.”
The year is 1984; the scene is London, largest population center of Airstrip One.
Airstrip One is a part of the vast political entity Oceania, which is endlessly at war with one of two other vast entities, Eurasia and Eastasia. At any moment, depending upon current alignments, all existing records show either that Oceania has at all times been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, or that it has at all times been at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia. Winston Smith knows this, because his work at the Ministry of Truth involves the constant “correction” of such records. “‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'”
In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is at all times Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party’s official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to enroll in a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Along with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime–in 1984, George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian keep an eye on that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly, he has portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia. In our deeply anxious world, the seeds of unthinking conformity are all over in evidence; and Big Brother is at all times on the lookout for his chance. –Daniel Hintzsche