Book Review: “1984”
I was born in 1984, the year that Orwell predicted a totalitarian-created collectivist “utopia” (and all its horrors) could come to be. And I’ve heard about this book since I can remember. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t read it until this year. I was required to read his powerful “Animal Farm” in school, and I did. I wonder if I was required to read “1984” in high school, and I didn’t (which is likely).
I was really impressed and even felt suffocated as I read this prophetic story about the ideologies of a totalitarian created “utopia.” Orwell offers a stunning critique on what life would look like, in all its terror, if a government succeeded in establishing a collectivist state.
I must confess, that I was extremely disheartened, when, in the end, the story’s hero, Winston Smith, was finally and totally crushed by Big Brother. What’s worse even than Winston’s individuality being utterly destroyed, was that he was made to go on living, without an ounce of true humanity left in him. In the end, he was only a shadow of a person, sustained only to perpetuate a false, coerced love for Big Brother.
The ending was hard to swallow. We always want to see the hero win. But I respect Orwell’s decision to strip Winston of anything resembling humanity, in order to show the cold, hard truth of a government-controlled state “utopia.”
Amazon.com offers a good summary:
“Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.”