Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four Cover

Nineteen Eighty-Four


I went into 1984 having no idea what it was about. Sure, I knew words like "Big Brother" and "Orwellian," and the like, but I was ignorant of the story. It seems the book was required reading for just about every high school in America, save mine. Whenever my girlfriend saw me reading it, she'd smirk and say, "I can't believe you've never read that."

Sue me, I guess.

Over the years, I've heard a lot of people talk about 1984 with a rather snobbish outlook. "Bah!" They say, "the story/prose/characters/whatever was lacking." On the other hand, I'd constantly hear people refer to President Bush's Patriot Act and whatnot as "in the same vein as 1984." Then I'd nod because I wanted to sound smart.

Frankly, I can't believe it took me this long to read it either.

I finished it in the waiting room of an ER last night, enraptured. I was surrounded by flu patients hacking their lungs up and old people who had fallen down the stairs and were complaining to anyone who would listen about the horrible state of interest rates. I heard none of it. Every single part of me was with Winston in Room 101, watching him be transformed from a revolutionary, into a broken and docile member of the Party. It was heartbreaking. Oh, spolier alert, by the way.

This book is incredible. It's hard to even pick a place to start. Why even talk about the plot? Everyone knows it already. Winston is living under the tyrannical rule of Ingsoc, and he hates it. Unfortunately, you can't make it known that you hate the government, because everything you do is scrutinized by the government.

But you know what? I don't want to talk about the story. It's too brutal. Instead, I'll talk about how this book made me feel.

Lousy. This book made me feel depressed, sad, angry. It also made me hopeful, then it dashed those hopes away. This is not a happy book. If you're expecting the character to lead some glorious rebellion against an evil government, look somewhere else.

But it still made me feel a lot more than some books I've read recently. This book shook me, and reminded me of human frailty and how sometimes the good guys don't win.

This book is a work of art. If you haven't read it, you should.

I'm going to go cry in the bathroom now.