I picked up a copy at a garage sale and get this masterpiece for about 50 cents along with Brave New World and Animal Farm and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Maybe I wouldn’t have read it if this hadn’t happened. This book was first published in 1949 and takes place in the the future year 1984, so it is basically a science fiction critique of the ideology of socialism. Ingsoc, an shadowy government organization in the novel, is an acronym for English Socialism. Other main themes of the book besides socialism are censorship and surveillance.
Nice to realize is that some things of what we use today is based on this book. “Big Brother is watching you” for example is settled in this book, it is indicating a real person there. Or the concept of suffixing something with “speak” like “media-speak” is based on this book and comes from “newspeak”. In contrast really alarmingly is that some events really happen. Josef Stalin has really unpersoned someone. In this picture he is there while in this he was edited out after he was executed. He became an unperson.
The main character of the book is Winston Smith, who is a member of the outer party of Oceania. There are 3 global powers who are constantly at war against each other, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Oceania contains of four big ministries: The ministry of peace, ministry of plenty, ministry of truth(Winston works there) and the ministry of love. The names are somehow opposite of what they are … and somehow not. And there is one main concept which is called doublethink, but basically tells you not to think. Winston was born before the party exists and so have some thoughts of that it isn’t correct what the party is doing. But you have to act after their rules because otherwise they unpersons you.
The first part bored me. It was just a description of what life is there and what rules you have to follow, but nothing really happens. It settled some characters and the situation but it was not exciting.
The second part was much nicer. Things are going to start. Situations evolve like you would expect them. Forbidden activities, love, sex. There is a girl and I really loved to see the differences between them - she was much younger. Because that are differences which occur everywhere between people of different ages. And then at the end something happens which you wouldn’t expect. It is really unexpected, at least for the amount of pages left.
The third part is going deeper about the end of the second part and how the party deals which such stuff. The whole end is again something you wouldn’t expect. When you start the book you really think of something else and would never have the idea that it is going to end this way.
All in all I would say I really liked this book and loved to read such a “modern classic” book. And now, because I can’t decide for a single favourite quote, here are my favourite quotes of this book.
War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is strength!
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two is four. If that is granted all, else follow.
All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.
He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.