Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell

So I just finished reading 1984.

(when I say “just”, I mean literally like a minute back)

Holy. Freaking. Sh*t.

I’m just going to dive straight into it because the impression it left on me is so fresh and so incredibly strong that I need to get it out right now.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

It’s the kind of book that leaves the inside of your mind rubbed raw, heavy, even shrinking with fright (that last part might be just me).

In matters of writing, I have to admit that the book got rather tedious sometimes, especially during the extracts from Goldstein’s book, which were extremely repetitive in nature and really difficult to wade through- it gave me the impression of moving through mud. I’m not sure if it needs to be like that, though- perhaps that was the whole point of it.

Also, sometimes I got the impression that the book could have been far shorter than it was– neater and more concise. I did not quite appreciate its sweeping generalisations at times, although the creation of an entirely new jargon, and the mind-boggling concept of “doublethink” is, obviously, nothing short of genius. That sense of playing around with reality- that idea that reality itself can be subsumed- was scary, to say the least.

The mutability of reality is one of my worst nightmares.

The very idea that there is nothing solid, nothing real to act as an anchor for my mind and perceptions is literally making me palpitate right at this moment. This is the reason why I’m terrified of mental illnesses like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s- not because they can take away my sense of who I am, but because they can take away my reality.

I think the book just changed my answer for the question “What am I the most afraid of?”– a question I have repeatedly asked myself, and repeatedly received the same answer to, from my internal conscious: until now.

One thing that the book never did provide, and that I was screaming for, all through O’Brien’s speeches, was a suggestion of the “why”.

Why did they do what they did, O’Brien and all those in charge, and why the single-minded submission to the party? Was it simply the idea of power, or was it a fanatical dedication of the self to an ideal? And was that dedication a mere excuse for the former? Orwell offered no theories or explanations for that. At the end of the book, it did not really matter, but… I think I would have liked to know what O’Brien’s motives were, specifically, and what Orwell himself thought about it.

The reading of this book for me was, I think, affected by the fact that I had already read a series of a similar nature– post-apocalyptic dystopia, et al: namely, The Hunger Games, and I have to admit the Mockingjay offered a far better resolution that was more in agreement with how I perceive the human condition. However, a book that is easier to read certainly cannot be counted as a better one. 

But the bleakness of 1984 got to me- the idea that no one is safe from corruption of thought, no one can rise above- that simply cannot be true! I agree with what Winston said: there is always someone- one individual, in whom the fire burns on- whatever you want to call it, Human Spirit, Goodness, etc.

Orwell may have believed in his dystopia, but I cannot bring myself to do that, for to do that is to abandon all hope for humankind, which I simply cannot do.

In spite of everything, in spite of all the war and stupidity and atrocities and the like, I still believe in that undefinable something that restores sanity amidst chaos, rather like Anne Frank: “In spite of everything, I still believe that men are truly good at heart.”

Of course, O’Brien, and possibly Orwell himself, would have asked if she still believed that two years later as she lay dying at Bergen-Belsen.

Now that I’ve had some time to absorb the initial impact, my mind is buzzing with ideas, all of them rebelling against Orwell’s world. But one thing is certain: this is a book that has changed me.

Once in a while, we are lucky to come across such experiences, that transform our thinking and ideas and are absorbed and stretched into our subconscious; we identify with them to such an extinct that they become a part of us. 1984 was definitely one such book for me. A day back, if you had asked me the practically unanswerable question, “Which is your favourite book?”, I would have unhesitatingly named Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, but now, the Brahmin boy will be joined by O’Brien, having nothing in common except their destructive literary energy.  The sheer power of the novel’s ideas and conclusion is overwhelming, so much so that reading it is a spiritual experience of the most frightening kind. If I had my way, I would label it as a horror story, because no other book has truly terrified me as much as Orwell’s dystopia has.

On a less serious note, I cannot believe they took as potent a symbol as Big Brother from this powerful juggernaut of a book and turned it into a reality show where people strongly resembling the proles backstab each other. It’s a gigantic cosmic joke, really. The most ironic fate that could have befallen the novel has turned into reality. I can’t decide of I want to laugh or cry.

What about you? Have you read the book?

What did you think about it? If you haven’t, what are your ideas about it and why would you want/ not want to read it? Share your thoughts below! (Remember that disagreement does NOT include lack of respect or admiration!)

See y’all soon. Peace out.


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2 Comments Add yours

  1. “why?” Why did they do what they did, and why the single-minded submission to the party?”

    You know this single word is so damn important and the writers know it too. I don't know whether it worked the same then but for me, almost every single book has ended with this question. WHY. Why this character did so and so or WHY this happened or why THIS way when it could have THAT manner?. And more often than not the writer leave it at that, knowing FULL WELL .what the impact is going to be. Should he/she give all the answers or leave something to be desired. Sometime it works, but the other times we are just left confused and it's NOT a pretty picture especially when there are some moments, some concepts, which we WANT to see from the POV of the writer because if he/she didn't believe in any kind of resolution how can we? Or atleast that's what i feel.

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  2. “However, a book that is easier to read certainly cannot be counted as a better one, but the bleakness of 1984 got to me- the idea that /no one/ is safe from corruption of thought, no one can rise above- that simply cannot be true! Orwell may have believed in his dystopia, but I cannot bring myself to do that, for to do that is to abandon all hope for humankind, and I can't do that: in spite of everything, in spite of all the war and stupidity and atrocities and the like, I still believe in that undefinable something that restores sanity amidst chaos.”

    Again. True and amazing. I believe in this too and it's kind of a contradiction to my earlier comment. There are times when we look towards the writer, about THEIR ideas and then there are times when we take matter into our own hands. If everyone ACTUALLY believed in a dystopian world then there wouldn't be books like Hunger Games or Divergent or i don't even know half of the awesome books that are out there or hell..Harry Potter! Whether a children book (although HP is more than that) or a Y/A or whatever category you want to out it too, people WANT to have hope, that's why we have so many movies and books and what not trying to show that. Trying to show it's importance in this God forsaken world. Maybe having hope might not work for you or i don't know maybe it got too late but it MAY work for someone else. Isn't that worth something? And yes hard though it may be we HAVE to believe that goodness still exists WHILE being prepared for the worst IMO 'cause if you don't you really cannot survive. Negativity alone will kill you.

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