Monday, October 16, 2017


Recently, the book 1984 has come up in my social media and random conversations. Although this book is a classic; I have never read it until now.

The thing is, I do not like dystopian stories. I've read a number of dystopian books and I've hated them all. For some reason, the characters always feel empty. Which could be a literary tool to make the world seem vacuous but it just come across like lazy writing to me. Then, there are always things that seem so implausible and thereby wrenches me out of the book to ask; why? Finally, the endings of the plot don't give me any sense of resolution. Before you think it, I know that this is often the point.

Sadly, all of this was true for me when reading 1984.

Is that a harsh assessment of this book? Probably.

However, if you take the "love story" between Winston and Julia you will find they are two people simply desperate for sex. What kind of character motivation is that? It could be argued that this is because of the controlled environment sending them to their more primal inclinations.

Pfft. I don't by it.

I think Orwell was trying to make social commentary and forgot about the human element of humanity. In the story, Big Brother states that sexuality, for the most part, is immoral and what Winston and Julia were doing was criminal. My question is, "Why would Big Brother want to reprogram Winston to choose between believing in love or being an immoral sex deviant?"  Confusion.

Cue doublespeak.

Doublespeak was what all the twists and turns of the plot and character arcs truly were. It was purposeful at times and at other times seemingly unintentional. Honestly, the whole book is a weaving of what I consider doublewrite, which is a sort of an Orwellian fever dream. 

Here, the author's ideas conflict and equate to the never ending toilet bowl of human desperation. Mix that downward spiral with the idea of a totalitarian shadow government and the book becomes a reference point for conspiracy theorists, political analysts, hippies and more. It is why so many are comparing the book to the Trump Era. The current thinkers of the world are trying to ask us, "Will we become like Winston or are we already like him?"

However, everyone should stop making these abstract comparisons. This seems to create a bubble of fear mongering and social panic. Instead, try to look at the really firm undeniable comparisons such as the Trump administration's connection to "alternative facts". I am not sure if Kellyanne Conway is aware that term was coined by Orwell in book...but I won't get into that.

This social context is why I appreciated reading this book. I feel like it is a story that needs to be read at least once. Not because you like the story, but because it gives you something to live in this world. Maybe that was Orwell's intention.

I imagine him on death's door writing furiously on that Scottish farm all those years ago. Riddled with tuberculous trying desperately to stay alert and send a message to the future. Then I think to myself wouldn't Don't let it come to this been a much shorter version of the book? Yes, but certainly not as memorable.

If you want to know more about the story itself (which I haven't included at all in this book review) may I suggest this video which gives us a touch of humor to take the sting out of 1984.

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