“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
– George Orwell, 1984
George Orwell didn’t write to create stories or works of art, he wrote to expose lies. Born in British ruled India in 1903, Eric Arthur Blair, known as George Orwell, was one of the most influential authors, essayist, and journalist of the early 20th century. Though he died young at the age of 56, Orwell’s influence has stood the test of time as even this year his famed novel 1984 (312 pages) is one of the number one selling books worldwide. 1984 is often considered Orwell’s masterpiece, surpassing his previous acclaimed work Animal Farm. Orwell was a political activist and was inspired by the things he saw over the course of his life (such as World War I, World War II, and the rise of Communism) to denounce Fascism, Stalinism, and most notably, Totalitarianism.
1984 is a dystopian novel written to warn against the danger of Totalitarianism. Written in 1949, the book takes place in a future where the political regime known as Ingsoc governs Airstrip One, formerly known as Great Britain, which is a province of Oceania. The infamous Big Brother is the omnipresent leader of the regime who carefully surveils his citizens, yet some believe he may not even exist. The plot centers around Winston, a government employee who grows more and more resentful of the Government he works for. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth and is an editor responsible for revising text from the past to fit Ingsoc’s agenda. As the plot moves forward it deals with themes of oppression, love, loyalty, mind control, censorship, war, etc., which all funnel back into the central idea of totalitarianism.
I had a great experience reading 1984 and is a book I would recommend without hesitation. Something I really appreciate about Orwell’s writing is how he is able to always remain relevant. The book has a lot interesting components to it such as “newspeak” which is the language enforced by the government that essentially eliminates expressing opposing views as well as personal expression. I also found the well developed ideology and philosophy of the government in the book to be fascinating. I’d definitely say that 1984 is a book that everyone should read at some point in their life, especially in todays world.