Sunday, 13 March 2011

1984 - George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair (nom de plume George Orwell) born 1903 and died in 1950 at the age of 46.  1984 was first published in 1949.  It was a book ahead of its time, a futuristic vision of life in the year 1984.  Orwell's book depicts a totalitarian state, think present day North Korea and you get the picture.  Orwell's book takes from Hitler's regime and Stalin's USSR.  Ingsoc = English socialism.  In Orwell's vision there are 3 superpowers Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia the smallest of the three.  A nation run by Big Brother who watches and hears all.  Telescreens are in every home and all over the place, a bit like our televisions except they are two way, broadcasting and receiving via hidden cameras and microphones.  Every cadence in tone and every twitch of facial expression is picked up.  It is a bleak existence where love and feeling are not allowed to exist, no free thinking is allowed.  All art and culture removed, history is erased as whatever is "written" is continually altered to reflect the present.  Like Hitler's Germany spies are everywhere including within your own family, all children are schooled in spying and snitching from a very early age.  Orwell has even got it right with his technology.  Britian is a free country but with satellites, speed cameras, fixed motorway cameras and videosurveillance in towns and cities we are under scrutiny.  Computers, we don't mind that our email, upload and download is traceable as long as it protects our children, uncovers drug cartels and terrorist cells.  The telephone has been used for eavesdropping, think back to the 80's GCHQ and Greenham Common.  With mobile phone networks we are even more accountable.  Winston Smith (the main character) in the novel begins to think and see Big Brother for what it really is.  Unfortunately he falls into a trap set up to ensnare him and ends up in the Ministry of Love where he is brainwashed into renouncing his beliefs and questions.  This book although depressing, is a book which gets you thinking and opens your mind.  It carries a powerful message.  I think that it should be on the syllabus for all high school students for this very reason.  5*

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