Monday, 4 November 2013

Nineteen Eighty-Four


I just finished reading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (£5.75 from Amazon) and I have to say that I was a little reluctant at first, but the book grew on me and I was certainly hooked by the whole concept of how the world could be if a party ever got enough power.

For those of you not familiar with the story, we follow a man called Winston, living in a dystopian version of 1984, where your every move and sound is captured by telescreens and hidden microphones, and any if you ever commit thoughtcrime, where you do not absolutely believe in all that The Party and Big Brother are saying, you will be caught by the Thought Police, tortured in the Ministry of Love, and all record of your existence will be removed from history.

There were two ideas that were central to this novel that really got me thinking, and quite frankly scared me a little. The first is that the past is only what is written in the history books and what lives in human memory, we can never really know if what happened in the past is true or not. The second is the idea of language. In the book, a new language is being developed, newspeak, which basically simplifies and constricts all the words of the English language, so there is only ever one word for what you want to say, and when this new language comes in to full effect, thoughtcrime will not exist, because the words simply do not exist to speak ill of The Party.

I know how frustrating it is when you can't think of the word that you want to use, but imagine if the words you wanted to use simply didn't exist? 

It just got me thinking, and I wanted to recommend the book to you. It is a typical English Literature class book, but I didn't find it half as dry as I was expecting to, and it is well worth a read.

Have you read any good books lately?

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