Review of 1984 by George Orwell

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It is entirely coincidental that I should be reading this book as part of course material at the same time as the whole Trump ordeal. Last week I also realised that it had made a comeback on bestselling too – I now see why of course and it did surprise me a little that I hadn’t studied or even read this novel before now. Well, anyhow, I’m here now so that’s all that matters.

To sum up:

What was particularly good?:  What I most enjoyed about reading 1984 was that it was so explicit and upfront in its narrative style. I had expected flowery, obscure language but there is little of that compared to its clarity. The clarity in his writing provides the ability to read objectively and engage better with the novel. Orwell’s views politically as well as emotionally are raw and transparent that it gives you a very good sense of the author as the storyteller.

What I didn’t enjoy?: There were two things that I really disliked about the novel. In short, the repetition of key points and the extremely slow pace. As a creative response to communism, the book really works well. As a novel, it was hard to feel at all interested in Winston’s (protagonist’s) life. There is the subtle knowledge that his life is somewhat important in the story but at times it is so mundane that I had to put the novel down and come back to it constantly.

For such a political novel, the themes and symbolism can hardly be obscure. Orwell’s intention is to highlight the possibilities of a different outcome post-war so, to review the book as singularly ‘dystopian’ would be stupid. The novel focuses on a totalitarian society and I feel that, that in itself allowed the novel to rise to such success. The thought of what could’ve, might’ve happened or even what could happen is the basis of any good creative writing – so needless to say there’s no doubt that Orwell has mastered this. It’s obviously more personal than this though, because the twist in the novel towards the end displays a harsher attitude towards this imaginary scenario.It’s not the typical heroic attempt of the protagonist to fix or even help to fix the situation, instead it’s more about how some things cannot be fixed – so maybe we should begin to really think about avoiding those things altogether. But quite basically Orwell obviously doesn’t believe in happy endings.

Now that we’ve got that out the way, I can talk about how much I hated the process of reading 1984. The novel (in it’s entirety, all 3 parts) in my opinion is divided unequally between interesting and non interesting points as displayed in the diagram below:

table-of-interestExhibit A: (Excuse my poor attempt at a diagram).

This meant for the entire “Ok I get it. Can we have some action please?” part of the novel, I was constantly picking up the novel only to put it back down again after reading a mere few pages.

Despite this disappointing setback I absolutely loved the second half, in a non creepy way. It was full of advancements, there was finally some reasoning behind the mundane start and it gave a very impact-full ending. There was both a great deal of emotion and some mystery too for once so it pushed me to finish the novel. There is something about dystopian fiction that attracts readers in an odd way – it’s brutal yet exciting. Obviously reader of the 50’s would have reason to disagree with “excitement” as a description but on the whole it is quite thrilling.

Finally, I think another factor of this novel’s success is the sense of realism in the world that Orwell has managed to build out of exaggerated imagination. There is plausibility and therefore it’s quite haunting not only to the readers of the past but more so to us now.

The best books… are those that tell you what you already know.

My rating: 4/5

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