Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four Cover

Nineteen Eighty-Four


I read 1984 two or three times in the era of about 1965 to 1975. One of those times I read it for the purpose of writing a college essay on it. I opined that the differences between the state of Orwell's 1984 and our own were of degree and not of kind. I felt that 1984 was a great and important book.

Now, a generation or two later, I have read it again. I think it is the only book I've ever read more than twice. I still feel it is a great and important book. Anyone who hasn't read it should. 1984 is the ultimate dystopia, all the more so for being so plausible.

In this latest reading, in my dotage, what struck me, similarities to our own times notwithstanding, were the differences between the state of 1984 and the state(s) in which we live today. As O'Brien pointed out to Winston, INGSOC, the party of Big Brother, is fundamentally different in its goals from the Catholic Inquisition, Nazism, and Soviet Communism, if not different in its methods. Another significant difference between INGSOC and modern America, for example, is the language. Newspeak, the burgeoning language of INGSOC is a contraction of English, a stultification, intended to stifle ideas, whereas modern English is a growing, evolving language, a language of innovation.

This is certainly not to say that there are not in our society powerful ones who would control the past to control the future; who surveil the populace; whose followers are fully immersed in doublethink.

Big Brother is watching you.