WBN 19: Nineteen Eighty Four

I’m not going to spoil it or anything, but man, the ending of 1984 is seriously eerie! Since I finished it a couple of days weeks ago I’ve been feeling really unsettled, and definitely thinking twice before I hand over information to any companies! I’ve also been really regretting the number of Googlemail addresses I’ve got for various projects as I’m now convinced that in fifty years time Google will be Big Brother.

I can’t say I especially cared about any of the characters in the novel, because they’re all so annoying. Julia is a bit of a rebel without a cause – as long as she can continue doing what she wants, she doesn’t care what the Party is up to. Neither does she understand it. She’s basically a really selfish, quite dim nymphomaniac. Except when she wants some, then suddenly she’s the brains ofBritain, and has the perfect plan under her belt. Then Winston, despite having some admirable qualities, is essentially a grumpy, miserable old man who you just know you would want to punch after spending about five minutes with him socially.

This is a classic novel, I think, for the first half, then it becomes a classic essay about an imaginary society. Suddenly instead of dodging invisible cameras and potential traitors and hidden microphones, we’re trudging through pages of political analysis. Admittedly there are some fascinating concepts – doublethink in particular being alive and well today – being discussed, but personally if I pick up a novel, I want a novel. The art of a novel is that it tells you the author’s thoughts in the form of a story, not by allowing your main character to pick up a textbook and segueing to what he’s reading.

For me, it’s the concept that has given this its longevity and classic status. It’s a theme that taps into developed society’s fears and paranoia – and so it should. For Orwell, it was telescreens, for us, it’s computers, linked by the internet, causing the fuss. 63 years after the original publication, we’re still seeing privacy and control issues debated every day in the media. How’s that for a hot topic?

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Filed under Books, World Book Night challenge

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