I have just read George Orwell’s 1984 again. It is an astonishingly good book; more than 60 years after it was first published, in an age entirely different from the miserable post-war austerity of 1949, it still has the ability to shock.
Knowing something of Orwell’s background from the biography he never wanted written, I can see an element of wish-fulfilment in the desire of the young and nubile Julia for Winston Smith; he was the faded middle-aged party member, with the varicose ulcer, who recognizes the interminable indoctrination of ‘The Party’ for what it really is. Orwell of course had fought in the Spanish Civil War. He put his life on the line for the communism/socialism he believed in and was nearly killed for his trouble. His two greatest works, Animal Farm and 1984, portrayed far more forcibly than any political pamphlet the complete bankruptcy of communism in practice.
I had forgotten about the ‘Thought Police’, ‘DoubleThink’ and ‘NewSpeak’. NewSpeak of course is already here in a way; just listen to any conversation on the Underground between young people with its ‘I was like… and he was like… and I was like…’ etc. Translation: “I was like” = “I said…”, “He was like”, = “He said” and so on.
It is depressing though, to realize that a whole generation is growing up only knowing “Big Brother” as inane reality TV, and identifying “Room 101” as an even more cretinous chat show.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs