In my review of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” I said that “Fahrenheit” was probably more realistic than George Orwell’s 1949 masterpiece, “1984.” But what “1984” lacks in believability, it makes up for in depth and in brilliance.
The story follows Winston Smith in 1984 London, which is then part of a super-country known as Oceania where workers toil under the watchful eye of an omnipresent “Big Brother.” Thought Police ensure that the population follows, and believes, the doctrines of the “Party.”
Orwell’s dystopian writing stems from the Socialist dystopia that developed in Russia, a world that looks great on paper but is really very horrible to live in. His logical extension of the one-time Russian reality was a world where the people are afraid to speak out or call attention to the faults of their society, because the Thought Police will torture or kill them for having even an idea that goes against Party doctrine.
While it is clear that the societies of the world did not develop as Orwell envisioned they would have by 1984, this amazing novel is still eye-opening. In our modern societies, so riddled with political-correctness, the concept of using language to change thought is particularly relevant. Newspeak, the official language of Oceania, is a fascinating concept in and of itself: If a language does not have a way of expressing a thought, then somebody who thinks in that language will not be able to think that thought.
“1984” is a mind-bending adventure that keeps you guessing, with an ending that will give you shivers. There are long tracts of sociological discussion which may bore you if you’re just looking for action, but if you’re looking for something to make you think then this book will not let you down.
“Big Brother is Watching You,” is the caption beneath the ever-present visage of the overseer. This cautionary tale is a great read, a wonderful story, and probably one of the biggest reasons that we have no “Big Brother” to contend with today. I highly recommend that everybody read Orwell’s “1984.”
5 out of 5 stars.