1984

1984

Alternate cover edition of ASIN B003JTHWKUFor previous cover edition see hereAmong the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmarish vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff...

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Title:1984
Author:George Orwell
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Edition Language:English

1984 Reviews

  • Bill  Kerwin

    This book is far from perfect. Its characters lack depth, its rhetoric is sometimes didactic, its plot (well, half of it anyway) was lifted from Zumyatin’s

    , and the lengthy Goldstein treatise shoved into the middle is a flaw which alters the structure of the novel like a scar disfigures a face.

    But in the long run, all that does not matter, because George Orwell got it right.

    Orwell, a socialist who fought against Franco, watched appalled as the great Soviet experiment was reduced to a totalita

    This book is far from perfect. Its characters lack depth, its rhetoric is sometimes didactic, its plot (well, half of it anyway) was lifted from Zumyatin’s

    , and the lengthy Goldstein treatise shoved into the middle is a flaw which alters the structure of the novel like a scar disfigures a face.

    But in the long run, all that does not matter, because George Orwell got it right.

    Orwell, a socialist who fought against Franco, watched appalled as the great Soviet experiment was reduced to a totalitarian state, a repressive force equal in evil to Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. He came to realize that ideology in an authoritarian state is nothing but a distraction, a shiny thing made for the public to stare at. He came to realize that the point of control was more control, the point of torture was more torture, that the point of all their "alternative facts" was to fashion a world where people would no longer possess even a word for truth.

    Orwell’s vision of the world is grim; too grim, some would argue, for it may deprive the faint-hearted among us of hope. But Orwell never wanted to take away hope. No, he wished to shock our hearts into resistance by showing us the authoritarian nightmare achieved: a monument of stasis, a tribute to surveillance and control.

    Here, in the USA, in 2017, our would-be totalitarians are a long way from stasis. Right now they’re stirring up chaos and confusion, spreading lies and then denying they spread them, hoping to gaslight us into a muddle of helplessness and inactivity. They are trying to destroy a vigorous democracy, and they know it will take much chaos and confusion to bring that democracy down. They hate us most when we march together, when we occupy senate offices and jam the congressional switchboard, when we congregate in pubs and coffee houses and share our outrage and fear, for they know that freedom thrives on solidarity and resistance, and that solidarity and resistance engender love and hope. They much prefer it when we brood in solitude, despairing and alone.

    Which reminds me...one of the things we should

    do is brood about the enemy’s ideology (

    ), for while we try to discern his “ideological goals,” the enemy is busy pulling on his boots, and his boots are made with hobnails, with heel irons, and equipped with toecaps of steel.

    Finally, it does not matter who heads up the authoritarian state: a bully boy like Mussolini, a strutting coprophiliac like Hitler, a Napoleonic pig like Stalin, or a brainless dancing bear like Trump. Whatever the current incarnation of “Big Brother” may be, the goal is always the same:

  • Dave

    In George Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith is an open source developer who writes his code offline because his ISP has installed packet sniffers that are regulated by the government under the Patriot Act. It's really for his own protection, though. From, like, terrorists and DVD pirates and stuff. Like every good American, he drinks Coca-Cola and his processed food has desensitized his palate to all but four flavors: sweet, salty-so-that-you-will-drink-more-coca-cola, sweet, and Cooler Ranch!(tm). H

    In George Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith is an open source developer who writes his code offline because his ISP has installed packet sniffers that are regulated by the government under the Patriot Act. It's really for his own protection, though. From, like, terrorists and DVD pirates and stuff. Like every good American, he drinks Coca-Cola and his processed food has desensitized his palate to all but four flavors: sweet, salty-so-that-you-will-drink-more-coca-cola, sweet, and Cooler Ranch!(tm). His benevolent overlords have provided him with some war happening somewhere for some reason so that he, and the rest of the population, can be sure that the government is really in his best interests. In fact, the news always has some story about Paris Hilton or yet another white girl who has been abducted by some evil bastard who is biologically wired by 200,000 years of human evolution to fuck 12-year-olds, but is socially conditioned to be obsessed with sex, yet also to feel guilty about it. This culminates into a distorted view of sexuality, and results in rape and murder, which both make for very good news topics. This, too, is in Winston's best interests because, while fear is healthy, thinking *too* much about his own mortality is strictly taboo, as it may lead to something dangerously insightful, and he might lose his taste for Coca Cola and breast implants. The television also plays on his fears of the unknown by exaggerating stereotypes of minorities and homosexuals, under the guise of celebrating "diversity", but even these images of being ghetto-fabulous and a lisping interior designer actually exist solely to promote racism and homophobia, which also prove to be efficient distractions.

    For some reason, Winston gets tired of eating recycled Pop Tarts and eating happy pills and pretending to be interested in sports and manufactured news items. But, in the end, they fix him and he's happy again. Or something.

  • Silvana

    WAR IS PEACE.

    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

    Those words keep sounding in my head since I read this book. Gosh, probably the most haunting not to mention frightening book I've ever read. 1984 should also be included in the horror genre.

    1984 describes a Utopia. Not Thomas More's version of Utopia, but this is one is the antithesis, i.e. Dystopia. Imagine living in a country, whose leaders apply a totalitarian system in regulating their citizen, in the most extreme ways, which make Hitler

    WAR IS PEACE.

    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

    Those words keep sounding in my head since I read this book. Gosh, probably the most haunting not to mention frightening book I've ever read. 1984 should also be included in the horror genre.

    1984 describes a Utopia. Not Thomas More's version of Utopia, but this is one is the antithesis, i.e. Dystopia. Imagine living in a country, whose leaders apply a totalitarian system in regulating their citizen, in the most extreme ways, which make Hitler, Mao, Stalin and that old bloke in

    look like sissies.

    Working, eating, drinking, sleeping, talking, thinking, procreating...in short living, all are controlled by the state. Any hint of obedience or dislike can be detected by various state apparatus such as the Thought Police, telescreen, or even your children, who will not hesitate to betray you to the authorities. Even language is modified in such ways that you cannot express yourself, since individualism is a crime.

    The past is controlled, rewritten into something that will strengthen the incumbent ruler. Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past. There is no real truth. The "truth" is what the state says it is. Black is white, 2+2=5, if the state says so.

    The world in 1984 is divided into three states, originated from the ashes from World War II: Oceania (British Isles, the Americas, Pacific, Australia), Eurasia (Europe & Russia), and Eastasia (the rest of it). Continuous warfare between those three (who hold similar ideologies) is required to keep the society's order and peace. Si vis pacem para bellum. That's describes the first slogan.

    The second slogan, freedom is slavery, means the only way to be free is by letting you lose yourself and to be integrated within the Party. That way, you'll be indestructible and immortal.

    Ignorance is strength, means the division on high, middle, low classes in society will never be changed. The middle wants to be the high and they'll act "on behalf of the low" to dethrone the high. Afterwards, a new middle class arises, all will change except the low. The high and middle make and uphold the law, the low (proletarian) is just too stupid to revolt. The state maintains its structure by torture, intimidation, violence, and brainwashing.

    Blimey, Orwell's Animal Farm is already depressing, but 1984 gives "depression" a new meaning, at least for me.

  • Amanda

    I've put off writing a review for 1984 because it's simply too daunting to do so. I liked 1984 even better after a second reading (bumping it up from a 4 star to a 5 star) because I think that, given the complexity of the future created by Orwell, multiple readings may be needed to take it all in. I thought it was genius the first time and appreciated that genius even more the second time.

    Orwell had a daunting task: creating a future nearly half a century away from the time period in which he w

    I've put off writing a review for 1984 because it's simply too daunting to do so. I liked 1984 even better after a second reading (bumping it up from a 4 star to a 5 star) because I think that, given the complexity of the future created by Orwell, multiple readings may be needed to take it all in. I thought it was genius the first time and appreciated that genius even more the second time.

    Orwell had a daunting task: creating a future nearly half a century away from the time period in which he was writing. This future had to be its own complex, independent society, but it also had to be the natural end result of the totalitarianism Orwell witnessed in the communist and socialist regimes of World War II. That's part of the horror of 1984: this future is a recognizable one, even in the 21st century. It's easy to see how those in control can, through manipulation and propaganda, maintain that control simply for the sake of sating their own power hunger. It's easy to say "no one could ever tell me what to think or what to do," but the Party's use of Big Brother, the Thought Police, the Two-Minute Hate, and Doublethink make it easy to see how a person's ability to think independently and discern fiction from reality can be eroded when there is no touchstone to fact. Revising and rewriting the past to make certain that Big Brother and the Party are always correct has effectively eliminated historical accuracy. How can one think and reason in a society where everything is a fabrication?

    Another facet of 1984 that I find fascinating is the relationship between Winston and Julia. Winston claims Julia is a "rebel from the waist down," engaging in promiscuity and hedonistic indulgences forbidden by the Party. She doesn't care about social injustice or defining "reality"; she only longs for what will make her feel good in the moment and only rebels far enough to get what she wants. By comparison, Winston is an intellectual rebel, constantly worrying over the issues of truth and freedom and the real, unvarnished past, but limited in how far he's willing to push the boundaries (until he meets Julia). Together, they make a complete rebellion--physical and mental, but apart they find themselves impotent to stand up to the Party.

    A cautionary tale, social commentary, and exemplary example of dystopian fiction, 1984 is one of those perfect novels that not only entertains, but forces one to think about the danger associated with giving any one person or entity too much power or control over our lives--issues well worth consideration in post-9/11 America.

    Cross posted at

  • Stephen

    I am a big fan of speculative fiction and in my literary travels I have encountered a myriad of dystopias, anti-utopias and places and societies that make one want to scream and.....

    ...

    ....

    Simply put, George Orwell's 1984 is unquestionably the most memorable and

    vision of a world gone

    utterly bat-shit psycho that I have ever experienced. Ever!!! Despite being published back in 1948, I have yet to f

    I am a big fan of speculative fiction and in my literary travels I have encountered a myriad of dystopias, anti-utopias and places and societies that make one want to scream and.....

    ...

    ....

    Simply put, George Orwell's 1984 is unquestionably the most memorable and

    vision of a world gone

    utterly bat-shit psycho that I have ever experienced. Ever!!! Despite being published back in 1948, I have yet to find a more chilling, nightmarish locale than Orwell's iconic world of

    and

    . The very mention of either of those terms invokes images of Nazis and Soviet gulags in my mind. Yet Orwell's creation is in many ways even more insidious than these real-world bogeymen.

    I first read this book when I was 12 years old in 7th grade as a...get this...class reading assignment. Looking back on it, I have NO IDEA why on Earth we were reading this book at that age but I do recall we spent quite a bit of time discussing it. I wish I could recall the substance of those discussions because I can only imagine the kind of PIERCING INSIGHT that a group of hormonally challenged pre-teens thought up in regards to this book. Needless to say, I think that this is a book that is best appreciated AFTER your first pimple.

    Anyway, I decided to re-read this book recently as an adult in the hopes that I would be able to gain a great appreciation for this classic. Well, the book did more than that.

    . From the very first sentence,

    to the unforgettable final sentence (which I will not give away here), this story sucked me in, beat the living shit out of me and through me out the other side a hollow, wasted wreck. I know, it doesn't sound very cheery, but it is a life-changing experience.

    I have always thought that one of the best and most important qualities of science fiction is that it frees the author to take the controversial, politically charged issues and trends of the day and create a possible future based on exaggerations of such trends and in so doing present a compelling and critical argument for change. Well NO ONE has ever done a better job than better Orwell in showing the possible nightmare (and thus potential danger) of a society without basic civil liberties and a government with complete and unchallenged control.

    This book is bleak, dreary, frightening, upsetting and absolutely BRILLIANT and one of my "All Time Favorite" novels. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!! 6.0 stars.

    ...........

    .............

  • Lyndsey

    Oh my God. I got the chills so many times toward the end of this book. It completely blew my mind. It managed to surpass my high expectations AND be nothing at all like I expected. Or in Newspeak "Double Plus Good."

    Let me preface this with an apology. If I sound stunningly inarticulate at times in this review, I can't help it. My mind is completely fried.

    , with its richly developed culture and economics, not to mention a fully

    Oh my God. I got the chills so many times toward the end of this book. It completely blew my mind. It managed to surpass my high expectations AND be nothing at all like I expected. Or in Newspeak "Double Plus Good."

    Let me preface this with an apology. If I sound stunningly inarticulate at times in this review, I can't help it. My mind is completely fried.

    , with its richly developed culture and economics, not to mention a fully developed language called Newspeak, or rather more of the anti-language, whose purpose is to limit speech and understanding instead of to enhance and expand it. The world-building is so fully fleshed out and spine-tinglingly terrifying that it's almost as if George travelled to such a place, escaped from it, and then just wrote it all down.

    I read Fahrenheit 451 over ten years ago in my early teens. At the time, I remember really wanting to read 1984, although I never managed to get my hands on it. I'm almost glad I didn't. Though I would not have admitted it at the time, it would have gone over my head. Or at the very least, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it fully.

    From the start, the author manages to articulate so many of the things I have thought about but have never been able to find a way to put into words. Even in the first few chapters I found myself having to stop just to quietly consider the words of Mr Orwell.

    For instance, he talks about how

    . It is communicating with the future. I write these words now, but others may not discover them for hours, weeks, or even years. For me, it is one time. For you the reader, it is an entirely different one.

    Just the thought that reading and writing could one day be outlawed just shivers my timbers. I related to Winston so much in that way. I would have found a way to read or write.

    . The society in the book has no written laws, but many acts are punishable by death. The slogan of the Party (War is Peace...) is entirely convoluted. Individuality is frowned upon and could lead to being labeled a traitor to the Party.

    I also remember always wondering why the title was 1984. I was familiar with the concept of Big Brother and wondered why that wasn't the name of the book. In the story, they don't actually know what year it is because so much of the past has been erased by the Ministry of Truth. It could very easily have been 1981. I think that makes the title more powerful. Something as simple as the year or date is unknown to these people. They have to believe it is whatever day that they are told it is. They don't have the right to keep track. Knowledge is powerful. Knowledge is necessary. But according to Big Brother. Ignorance is strength.

    1984 is written in past tense and has long paragraphs of exposition, recounting events, and explaining the society. These are usually things that distance me from a book and from the characters, but Orwell managed to keep me fully enthralled. He frequently talks in circles and ideas are often repeated but it is still intriguing, none the less. I must admit that I zoned out a bit while Winston was reading from The Book, but I was very fascinated by the culture.

    Sometimes it seems as though the only way to really experience a characters emotions is through first person. This is not the case with this book, as it is written in third person; yet, I never failed to be encompassed in Winston's feelings. George manages to ensure that the reader never feels disconnected from the events that are unfolding around them, with the exception of the beginning when Winston is just starting to become awakened. I developed a strong attachment to Winston and thrived on living inside his mind. I became a member of the Thought Police, hearing everything, feeling everything and last but not least, (what the Thought Police are not allowed to do) questioning everything.

    I wasn't expecting a love story in this book, but the relationship between Julia and Winston was truly profound. I enjoyed it even more than I would have expected and thought the moments between them were beautiful. I wasn't sure whether he was going to eventually betray Julia to the Party or not, but I certainly teared up often when it came to their relationship.

    George has an uncanny ability to get to the base of the human psyche, at times suggesting that we need to be at war for many different reasons, whether it's at war with ourselves or with others. That is one thing I have never understood: why humans feel the need to destroy and control each other.

    It seems that the main and recurring message in this book is about censorship and brainwashing. One, censorship, is limited and little exposure to ideas of the world; the other, brainwashing, is forced and too much exposure to a certain ideas. Both can be extremely dangerous.

    Inside the ministry of Truth, he demonstrates the dangers of censorship by showing how the Party has completely rewritten the past by forging and abolishing documents and physical evidence. We also spend quite a bit of time with Winston in the Ministry of Love, where the brainwashing takes place. Those who commit thoughtcrime are tortured until they grow to love and obey Big Brother and serve only the interests of the Party.

    A common theme occurred to me throughout the book, although it wasn't necessarily referenced consistently. The good of the many is more important than the good of the one. There are so many variables when it comes to this statement and for the most part it seems natural to say, "Of course, the many is more important than the one", but when inside Winston's head, all that I began to care about was his well-being and not if he was able to help disband or conquer the Party and Big Brother. I just wanted him to be at peace.

    Whether or not the good of all is more important than that of the one, I can't answer. I think most people feel their own happiness is more important than the rest of the world's, and maybe that's part of the problem but it's also human nature. I only wish we could all accept one other regardless of belief and culture and not try to force ways of life onto other people. Maybe I'm naive for thinking that way, but so be it.

    I almost don't know what to think about this book. I'm not even sure my brain still works, or if it ever worked right at all. This book has a way of making you think you know exactly what you believe about everything and then turning you completely upside down and making you question whether or not you believe anything at all about anything. It's the strangest thing. Hmmm. Doublethink? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    Everything about this book is captivating. It's groundbreaking yet at the same time, purely classic. Ahead of its time, yet timeless. From Big Brother to the Thought Police, I was hooked and wanted to know more about it all.

    Basically, I think everyone should read 1984 at some point. You really have to be in the mood to work at reading it, though. But it's all worth it in the end. It's absolutely incredible and I loved it. I don't re-read many books but this will definitely be one of them. It is a hard read, but more importantly, it is a MUST read.

  • Lyn

    “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

    This changed the way that I looked at ideologies and changed the way I looked at leadership. Cynical, scathing, and not without its flaws, this is still a stark, haunting glimpse at what could be.

    “War is peace.

    Freedom is slavery.

    Ignorance is strength.”

    Chilling.

    The closing lines still come to me sometimes and remind me of depths that I can only imagine.

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to

    “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

    This changed the way that I looked at ideologies and changed the way I looked at leadership. Cynical, scathing, and not without its flaws, this is still a stark, haunting glimpse at what could be.

    “War is peace.

    Freedom is slavery.

    Ignorance is strength.”

    Chilling.

    The closing lines still come to me sometimes and remind me of depths that I can only imagine.

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself.

    He loved Big Brother”

    ** 2018 addendum - it is a testament to great literature that a reader recalls the work years later and this is a book about which I frequently think. The scene that I most often think is when Winston and Julia are captured.

    ** 2019 reread - Lost in my memory was to what extent Orwell describes and explains his nightmare.

    Winston Smith cautiously and surreptitiously discovers the Brotherhood led by Goldstein and then learns all too well about O'Brien's duplicitous doublethink.

    More than just a cautionary political tale, Orwell has described an ideological abyss into which we must not gaze; a glimpse at authoritarianism power plays to which the Nazis and Soviets never descended. While we can appreciate the reminder to avoid authoritarianism and his prophetic vision, the idea that truth can be arranged through media is perhaps the most relevant for us today.

  • Maria

    I'm gonna ask myself a mandatory question and say nothing more.

    Why the fuck had I not read this book before?

  • John Wiswell

    is not a particularly good novel, but it is a very good essay. On the novel front, the characters are bland and you only care about them because of the awful things they live through. As a novel all the political exposition is heavyhanded, and the message completely overrides any sense of storytelling. As an essay, the points it makes can be earthshaking. It seems everyone who has so much as gotten a parking ticket thinks he lives in a 1984-dystopia. Every administration that reaches for po

    is not a particularly good novel, but it is a very good essay. On the novel front, the characters are bland and you only care about them because of the awful things they live through. As a novel all the political exposition is heavyhanded, and the message completely overrides any sense of storytelling. As an essay, the points it makes can be earthshaking. It seems everyone who has so much as gotten a parking ticket thinks he lives in a 1984-dystopia. Every administration that reaches for power, injures civil liberties or collaborates too much with media is accused of playing Big Brother. These are the successes of

    's paranoia, far outliving its original intent as a battery against where Communism was going (Orwell was a severely disappointed Marxist), and while people who compare their leaders to Big Brother are usually overreaching themselves and speak far away from Orwell's intent and vision, it is a useful catchcloth for dissent. Like so many immortalized books with a social vision,

    's actual substance is so thin that its ideologies and fear-mongering aspects can be stretched and skewed to suit the readers. If you'd like a better sense of the real world and Orwell's intents, rather than third-hand interpretations of his fiction, then his

    is highly recommended.

  • Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    This was an up and down kind of read for me. There were parts that I really enjoyed and parts that I found extremely difficult to maneuver through. I'm glad that I decided to pick it up and give it a go, because it's one that I've been curious about for a long time. I can definitely see why so many people love this book. It explores a lot of things that we see happening in the world today. I can't say I'm leaving it as a massive fan, but I'm sure it's one that I'll continue to think about.

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