Book Review - Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) By George Orwell


Book Review
1984 By George Orwell

Written by: Prithvi Dev Singh, 2nd year student in Delhi University, India


1984 is a social science fiction novel by English novelist George Orwell. It was published on 8th June 1949 as Orwell’s 9th and final book.

 

Thematically, the book revolves around a totalitarian dystopian social system and mass surveillance. But there is a lot more to it, the book focuses strongly on freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Secondary points of focus are sex and speech, etymology i.e. how they propagate the idea of free will and how authoritarian regimes deal with such blasphemies (by their standards of course).

 

Another main focal point is history, past and how it is bent rather completely destroyed and written a new so that it fits their centralized and dictatorial narrative.

 

"Who controls the past, controls the future

Who controls the present, controls the past."

 

Protagonist Winston Smith lives in Oceania which is controlled by 'the party' which is controlled by a character named 'big brother'. As of late, our guy Winston has been having thoughts, it doesn't matter what kind of thoughts, he has just been thinking a lot more than he should be. The story unfolds as newer characters come into existence and Winston learns more and more about the world he lives in.

 

Right off the bat, the story comes across as confusing, but as you read more and more, things start falling into place (pretty sure that's how reading works 😑) It is to be noted that the book was written in 1949 in anticipation of the year 1984, and there have been some massive assumptions made about what the future is going to be like, and consequently the dialect might leave us (2021 people) rather perplexed.

 

1984 is a lengthy book and it tends to get tedious at points, reading through the boring parts is like a job, you have to drag yourself through 20 30 pages of Orwell jargon at regular intervals. But again, I think that one's on us as readers, after all our attention spans have taken a massive blow from all the 15 second tiktoks and reels on the internet. I could have just shut the book close and that would have been the end of it, but I didn't, for I really wanted to know where things would go.

 

Character development is a 10/10 astounding and there is a lot of scope here for spoilers. I would like to quote the book here.

 

"Big brother is watching you"

 

Which is what brings me to plot holes, of which there are a couple…


Something about mass surveillance doesn't seem right (yeah no doy), it is understandable that with the advancement in technology, it is now easier to scrutinize people, but if one truly wanted to, he could escape the endless monitoring and scrutiny (opinion).

 

Second one in my opinion is the authors take on love and proletarians, the hidden potential in them has been greatly undermined. History is a witness, the oppressed have rebelled against the aristocrats and the noblemen, time and time again, be it the Nazis, Russian communists or the British colonialists.

 

The author says, "The masses never revolt of their own Accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed."

 

For everything I said there's a counter argument in the book and is debatable.

 

The plot is like nothing I've ever known, and at no given point in time could I predict what was going to happen next. Think of it like this, it was like any other Nazi Germany documentary on Netflix but better, as in, in this case the authoritarians and the dictators reigned over the vulnerable better than any other regime to have ever existed in history.

 

A fantastic novel through and through…Orwell displayed a beautifully orchestrated prediction of the future which just might come true one day (let's all hope not).

 

It gives the reader a new outlook towards freedom and its importance. It's not really that important for you to be in resonance with historical events, the likes of world wars or the French revolution or such to understand what's written in there, it's very much relevant even in the current scene.



Book:                  

Nineteen Eighty-Four also known as 1984      

Author:                  

George Orwell

Published:              

8 June 1949, by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime

Page count:

328

Genres: 

Utopian and dystopian fiction, Political fiction, Social science fiction


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