So, somehow I had avoided reading this one in high school. Friends have told me they had read it, but I don’t remember picking the book up in any of my CP English classes. I do remember some Ray Bradbury, Brontë, Fitzgerald, Shelley, and many other great authors. In a freak of circumstance, though, I had never picked up Orwell–even in my sci-fi literature class senior year.
In 2019, I have finally gotten through the novel. I now understand all of the references, and see crazy parallels in our own world.
Ultimately, the novel is about the dangers of totalitarianism. The story revolves around a man, Winston Smith, who becomes disenchanted with Oceania (a nation comprised of what was the United States, Canada, England and a couple of other countries) as it is and seeks to revolt against it. He meets a woman, and given the world in which he lives, does not trust her. But, eventually they are befriended and fall in love. Tragically, they’re separated by Big Brother and “cleansed” before final disposition.
The novel was quite compelling. Obviously, we haven’t come close to that world in the current day–and hopefully will never even skirt the edges of that kind of world. Politically, both of the major sides these days may accuse the other of bringing us there. I have a feeling, if we ever do, it’ll be because of both of them.
In any case, the writing was excellent. When I pictured the tech in this world, I pictured very much things that I would have imagined seeing in 1940s projections of the future. The telescreen, for instance, I imagined to be a gigantic television. Of course, if you look at the world as it truly is today, one might say they’d be smartphones. They have rockets, atomic weapons, pneumatic tubes for delivery of information. Obviously a bit primitive by our standards, but science in that age has a far different purpose in perpetuating the state.
The ending was somber, but I suppose I should have expected that. I had high hopes in the middle of the story that the revolution that Smith envisioned would come true, that he’d avoid the seemingly inevitable execution. I knew that someone would betray him, though I somehow thought it’d be Julia before O’Brien–love just seemed such an unlikely thing in that world, and so she seemed the most likely to have turned him in for his “perversion” against the state.
I’m only sorry that it took me this long to get to it; it really was a great story, and hopefully not prescient about the world to come (as I’m sure everyone who has read it has hoped since Orwell published it).
At some point soon, I want to read Brave New World. Apparently, the world ends up in very much the same kind of place but in a very different way. As opposed to brutality to institute totalitarianism, the populace is lulled into it by having all of their wants and desires met.
For now, though, I’m reading a nice Star Trek novel called “To Reign in Hell” about Khan Noonien Singh and his time on Ceti Alpha V. My pattern seems to be that every other novel I read these days is a Star Trek one (sometimes Star Wars, if something new is out). There are still four active series being written (TOS, TNG, VOY, DIS) at the moment, so there are always plenty of new novels there to read. Also, again anything Star Wars (yes, even Disney Star Wars) is something I gravitate towards. I’m also reading through Harry Potter–I’m through Order of the Phoenix, at this point. And, I have plenty on the horizon that I want to pick up.
Ahhh, how I love reading…