★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I went into 1984 with an incredible bias. I was in a bad mood – against classics and particularly the shove-it-in-your-face moral style of George Orwell. This is only the second Orwell novel I have ever read. I thought maybe Animal Farm was just written for children and that’s why the morals and metaphors were so… In your face. I read the first few pages of 1984 already pissed off. I could see where he was going. Don’t trust the government. They’re spying on you. Telling you what to think with media manipulation.
Then I accidentally loved it. In another review I said that no one ever fan-girled George Orwell. I was so wrong.
Once you get past the morals, and the sense of impending doom that ol’ mate Orwell is trying to stress, you can enjoy the story behind it. I enjoyed his made up words ‘newspeak’, ‘thoughtcrime’, ‘doublethink’, it’s amazing how so many of these things are still so relatable today. Either Orwell is a psychic or we really haven’t progressed much as a society.
I especially loved the scene where our protagonist, Winston Smith, was talking to his friend who was proud of the fact that he was helping to decrease the English language: “it’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” It’s almost like Orwell foresaw the degrading of language with the introduction of technology.
After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just a well–better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning; or “doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still.
I don’t know if it is just me, but he seems to be making fun of Americans in some scenes. American’s give the rest of the world the impression, above anything, of their patriotism and constitutional rights. The masses in 1984– though set in what used to be Great Britain – sounds very American when they repeat the party’s slogans to attain for all manner of faults.
‘All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations.’
Giving them a patriotic slogans to spout, hides the flaws in all the logic. Maybe it was just me drawing parallels to the whole American premise of a ‘right to bear arms’ despite that guns are weapons designed to kill – logic. Patriotism to a fault.
I found all of the party’s tricks and tactics for an agreeable public so interesting. Imagine deleting a word like “freedom” from someone’s vocabulary. How would they know they didn’t have it, if the word had never existed? Dammit I could feel Orwell trying to make me think during the entire novel. I said to him, I said “Orwell. Man. Can’t I just enjoy a frigging book without having to think about the philosophical anomalies behind it?” He politely told me there was no way in hell I could just ‘enjoy’ 1984, that that was now how he ran his ship. I really had no choice. Stop reading my new favourite classic (sorry Slaughterhouse five), or start to fear just how close Big Brother was looking into my internet search history… What a classic. What a phenomenal dystopian. What a doubleplusgood read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★