I’ve decided to post a review of 1984 by George Orwell to kick off my David Bowie top 100 books reading challenge because it also happen to be one of my own favourites. I have read this novel many times, most recently in November. I wrote an essay about George Orwell’s Why I Write, blogging, and the collapse of the private and public spheres. It was just as heavy as it sounds, but do have a read of Why a Write if you haven’t already!
I have no idea how to write this review without including SPOILERS, so please stop reading immediately if you haven’t read 1984 yet.
1984 was the very distant future at the time it was written in 1948…see what he did there? Obviously the world hasn’t turned out exactly the way Orwell imagined, but I often suspect that he wasn’t too far off the mark either.
Point 1: Orwell claimed that technologies such as TV and radio would be used to spy on and control citizens:
Not TV and radio so much, but the Internet obviously has an enormous amount of privacy concerns. Privacy is certainly a different concept now than it was in 1948.
Point 2: The media will be increasingly used to influence public opinion:
I think that’s obviously pretty accurate these days.
Point 3: The world will constantly be at war, but there will be no world wars or use of atomic bombs:
Point 4: Countries will become allies with former enemies and vice versa.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that 1984 is too slow paced, but I think this was intentional. Living in a dystopian world such as Winston’s would be a grim and dull existence. I know we’re used to a bit more excitement and action these days, but Orwell wrote this novel with one purpose in mind. To deliver a strong political message and voice his concerns about the way he saw the world heading.
Believe it or not, I can see similarities between Orwell and David Bowie. They both wanted to make the world a better place and used art to deliver their messages. Orwell was obviously much more abrasive and in your face than Bowie though!
As the line in Space Oddity goes:
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.
I see this to mean there are some truly awful and horrific things in this world. Make yourself aware of what’s going on around you, but that is often all we can do. Look for the good and the beautiful anyway.
I consider 1984 to be a must read. I have too many favourite books to have one book I would call my favourite, but 1984 is definitely a contender if I had to choose just one. Please don’t ask me to choose though!
The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy
Source: I own my copy
Rating: 5/5 stars
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