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1984 (British first edition)

English author George Orwell's novel set in a dystopian future.

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Thoughtspeaking Truth to Power

  • Feb 23, 2011
There are very few writers whose work has been so profound that their names have become adjectives. Shakespearean. Kafkaesque. Orwellian.

1984 remains George Orwell's greatest legacy, a fact shared by Roberto Bolano's novel 2666; both books with a four-digit number as the title, both written frantically by authors who knew they were dying, both profound in their exploration of human cruelty, both lifting the veil of propaganda and rhetoric to get to the Truth underneath.

I try to re-read 1984 every few years or so, so as never to forget Orwell's powerful message (We Must Not Let This Future Come To Pass), and to rekindle the tingling literary joy I experienced when I was first exposed to the book in my last year of high school. The clandestine budding romance between Winston and Julia; the ever-present terror evoked by the telescreens and the Thought Police; the Party's final solution of engineering humanity out of every human being; the hope and optimism that lives in Winston's heart, which is then crushed by O'Brien in the Ministry of Love's Room 101, and which returns, oddly enough, in the form of the book's appendix on Newspeak.

Totalitarianism is still very much a reality around the world, with civil liberties always under attack, and so it's important to keep the nightmare world of Oceania and Airstrip One alive in the mind. One must be ever vigilant for signs of the watchful eyes of the Thought Police in CCTV cameras and internet wiretapping, of the destruction of language advocated by the devolution into contextless acronyms and SMS-speak, of the censorious invasion into our very minds by authoritarian and corporate influence.

1984 can only be described as a tragedy. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy loses self. With the final lines, Winston Smith gloriously professes his love for Big Brother and thereby takes the final step in becoming an unperson, but his suffering and rebellion serve as inspiration for us all to never take our lives and freedom for granted. Orwell's literary sacrifice of his most human protagonist remains one of the greatest contributions to the world of letters and to the continuing species of humanity.

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February 23, 2011
This is one of my all-time favorite reads. Great review of a classic novel!
More 1984 (novel) reviews
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2011
posted in SF Signal
1984 is an essential book, not just for SF readers, not just for readers, but for everyone, everywhere.
Quick Tip by . February 23, 2011
posted in SF Signal
Pretty dry (dare I say boring) read in places, but the discussion about total context manipulation and its implications still remain pretty scary and relevant
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2011
posted in SF Signal
It's been years since I've read 1984, but it made a huge impression on me.
Quick Tip by . October 06, 2010
One of those novels where you find yourself just fascinated.
review by . July 06, 2010
   This was a well written book and one that receives not even a modicum of the attention it deserves.  While the book begins by describing the social caste system and the dangers of becoming to personable within such, it is more of a descriptor of how technology and the application of social labels tends to be an implicit divisionary tactic between those within a social group.  Winston's difficulty in negotiating his own personal feelings and the enforced loyalty to his …
review by . July 01, 2010
1984 is one of those eponymous books that is probably known more for its setting than the actual story. It's the originator of the 'Big Brother' that we have all become familiar with. It's now used to refer to overbearing government schemes which shows just how pervasive this book is in modern society. Orwell was a proponent of writing in plain English without obfuscation and his literary style is obvious throughout. It's a very easy book to read but don't let that fool …
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
The sort of book you never forget. The sort of book your kid has to read in school and you say "At last, here's one you'll enjoy."
Quick Tip by . August 26, 2010
Even after 1984, this book is powerful, scary, and relevant.
review by . July 07, 2010
In 1949, George Orwell published the book, 1984, following the life of Winston Smith, an employee at the Ministry of Truth, part of the totalitarian government Oceania. However, as the story progresses, Winston begins to run afoul of the mandates of the government and the book describes his struggles and conflicts with the government.       According to Winston, many things that we think are frightening are actually real. The existence of the idea of "Big Brother", …
Quick Tip by . August 14, 2010
I read this book in High school. I loved it. Asa pol. sci. major it has made a big impact on my way of thinking and observing totalitarian regimes. This should be required reading for eveyone.
About the reviewer
Jason Erik Lundberg ()
Jason Erik Lundberg is a writer of fantastical fiction, and an American expatriate living in Singapore. His work has appeared (or will soon) in over forty venues in five countries. He runs Two Cranes … more
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About this book


Concerns life in an authoritarian regime as lived by Winston Smith, an intellectual worker at the Ministry of Truth, and his degradation when he runs afoul of the totalitarian government of Oceania, the state in which he lives in the year that he presumes is 1984
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Author: George Orwell
Genre: Intelligent Science Fiction, Dystopian, Political and Social Satire
Publisher: Secker and Warburg, Signet Classics
Date Published: June 8, 1949
ISBN: 0-452-28423-6
Format: Novel
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