Genre: Negative utopia/dystopia, sci-fi
First published: 1949
Author: George Orwell
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
This book was a journey. It’s difficult to summarise, because it doesn’t have much in the way of things happening to the characters. It’s more about things happening within the characters. It toes the line between novel and essay and I think it does better as an essay than as a novel. It’s like the story and the characters are just an anecdote the author uses to explain his point. But I did enjoy it. It was thought provoking and even though it took me quite a long time to finish, I really liked it.
It is quite disturbing, particularly towards the end, with some of the ideas it brings forth about human nature, about reality and how we understand and relate to it. About what reality really is. One of the ideas that permeates the whole book is that of how history is whatever is written down, whatever is chronicled. And so long as the documents pertaining to the past are alterable, the past itself is alterable. Which seems like a stupid thing to say, because what happened, happened. But did it really? If there’s no one to remember it and nothing to document it, who’s to say one thing happened and not another? It’s a pretty head-ache inducing thought to follow, but I found it interesting to explore.
Another pervading theme was that of human nature and what it really is. Orwell takes quite a dark and pessimistic view of it in this book, essentially saying that hatred and selfishness always win. While I don’t entirely agree with it, he does make some valid points.
Because of the abstract ideas that is puts forward, the book is quite… trippy. Particularly towards the end, I wasn’t sure what to believe. What was real. It’s difficult to explain, but it sort of made me want to question everything. It made me a little bit paranoid, which was kind of disturbing because it sort of proved some of the points that were being made.
I feel like I could write my own essay dissecting the book and the ideas in it, but it’s an interesting read. I recommend it for people who like abstract thought and if you are one of those people, I encourage you to read it and see what your take on the ideas presented is. If you have read it, let me know in the comments what you thought about it. I’m really curious to know.