{Book Review} Nineteen Eighty Four -1984-

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Euxharisto kai s'agapo koukla mou

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Author George Orwell
Publication date 8 June 1949
Genre(s) Dystopian, political fiction, social science fiction

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For me personally, there has always been an end goal of my career as a writer. The ultimate and complete dream of the entirety of my life, achieved through ink, paper, and time: an adjective form of my last name. In the 16th century, Italian diplomat and part time assassin [1] Niccolò Machiavelli introduced to the world his "How to" guide to running the state, and in return the term "Machiavellian" was born. Similarly, when George Orwell introduced his cynical dystopian vision of mankind's future, we were given the term "Orwellian"

To understand what sets these writers apart from the rest, and in hopes of learning how to achieve the same success, this two part review series will be looking into both classical works starting with Orwell's masterpiece Nineteen Eighty Four and continuing in part two with Machiavelli's The Prince

Nowadays, it seems as if it can only be the boldest of humanists, the strongest of optimists, and possibly the stupidest of people to look at the future and have nothing but hope. [2] Simply turning on the nightly news can be enough to make us replace sanguinity with apathy. And if this weak, frightening, and devastating view of the world is commonplace in modern day, one can only imagine the severe pessimism of the lost souls of the World War II generation. One such soul would go on to detail his prediction of such an ill-fated future that we would from then on simply know as "Orwellian."

On the surface, Nineteen Eighty Four may not seem different from the average adventure tale placed in a desolate setting. Following the pathetic life of Winston Smith, the plot follows from his dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the government, to his eventual opposition and insurrection.

Though the plot is surely interesting and incredibly suspenseful, it is secondhand to the world Orwell creates around it.

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Winston lives in Oceania, which encompasses what is modern-day Great Britain, the Americas, Australia, Southern Africa, and Ireland. And therefore is subject to the perplexing governance of their peculiar ideology called Ingsoc (English Socialism). Oceania is one of the three rivaling superpowers, who despite having ideological similarities are in constant perpetual warfare over the part of land that remains unclaimed.

For those of us turning to the Communists amongst us with smug smiles, it's important to note that Orwell's commentary is not only a slash on far left or far right ideologies. As the book progresses, we realize that this hell Winston lives in is not as far-fetched as we once thought. Other than the constant pro-government propaganda we notice littering every street, corner, and mind of each of its inhabitants, Big Brother has many tools for controlling the thoughts of Oceania's inhabitants. Orwell's imaginative creations that put the force behind the totalitarian regime are quite genius in concept.

Newspeak is territories official language, and unlike all other languages before it, it annually shrinks rather than expands. The ultimate purpose of this is to create a world in which people would literally have no words to express unorthodox thoughts, and therefore have no way to act on them or even acknowledge them to begin with. And if these concepts sounds far fetched an impossible, compare it to the PC culture that our youth grows up in.

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However, the cleverest tool in Big Brother's arsenal is metaphysics. Evident in the use of a something called Double Think. This is defined as holding two contradictory concepts at once, and believing that both are true. One example in the book comes from a poster that says "WAR IS PEACE" which we can directly relate to the modern example of the "Peace-Keeping forces" that the US government has placed in present day Iraq and Afghanistan. Another modern-day example of Double Think is found in The Patriot Act, in which giving up our liberties is considered an essential part in retaining our freedom. To which extent do we allow ourselves to give up such crucial freedom in exchange for security, and I Winston's case, ignorance?

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Blatant examples of Double Think are evident in the very ways that Ignsoc works. While the Ministry of Truth controls the press and history, The Ministry of Love is the brutally unforgiving police force, The Ministry of Plenty is in charge of rationing, and the Ministry of Peace in command of the war efforts.

Mental Manipulation is only the psychological extent to which Orwell's Human Alpha Male goes to attain his tyrannical grasp. He isn't confounded by Physical boundaries either, with his Thought Police and Telescreens, whose purpose is to survey each individual for unorthodox thought. Children are also raised in a way to serve their all-dominant master, as they're taught from the cradle to the grave to turn in any one suspected of crimes against the government, especially their parents. People who are turned in are vaporized from existence, with every legal and social document forged or destroyed in the Ministry of Truth. In a world were you don't know who is and who isn't part of the Thought police, and one in which you cannot trust your own family, acceptance and trust in the government is the only place to turn.

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Winston is part of the Outer Party (bourgeoisie), in-between the inner party (elite) and the Proles (the poor uneducated proletariat). The politics of Poverty is an essential part in Big Brother's control of the people. By keeping the majority worker class in the hands of the Outer Party, the Inner party only needs to focus on controlling the desires and thoughts of a small portion of the population, which in return gleefully subjugates the rest.

Perhaps then, the reason Orwell has achieved such great and coveted success is that like Winston himself, his methods are quite unorthodox. It quite easy to create a such a setting and warning by requiring the reader to suspend belief, its another to explain to him every inch and detail of how this could happen, and in deed does happen, in his own very world. Going above and beyond the normal may have just been what crowned Orwell his desired status.

Next we turn to Machiavelli's The Prince, and see just what it is that he does to achieve parallel success.

Augustus Drakken

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[1] That is, going off the assumption that Assassins Creed is 100% historically factual
[2] I'm referring to myself here, but if you want to take this as a jab at Obama, be my guest

Well-written review, thoughtful analysis and a great article. Good work, and I look forward to seeing your article on the Prince. (Incidentally, Machiavelli was probably just trolling when he wrote it; it goes against pretty much everything else he ever wrote.)

Nineteen Eighty Four contained the most horrifying ending I've ever seen in a book.
I myself am an Optimist who can see hope in the future, but it's not a future with der smiles und sunshine all the way.

very nice review. :) i'm curious to see more-is there a timetable on that "prince" review?

i read this book in one sitting. just brilliant.

I have removed my words from this site.

Great review, even though I thought the book was boring as hell right until the end got remotely entertaining.

I enjoyed the review, one of my favorite books ever (if not my absolute favorite).

Didn't Shakespeare coin the adjective-named-after-you idea first? We call things Shakespearean (for reference, it doesn't come up with a red squiggly on firefox :P).

subject_87:
Well-written review, thoughtful analysis and a great article. Good work, and I look forward to seeing your article on the Prince. (Incidentally, Machiavelli was probably just trolling when he wrote it; it goes against pretty much everything else he ever wrote.)

Thank you very much.

Anarchemitis:
Nineteen Eighty Four contained the most horrifying ending I've ever seen in a book.

I liked it. I expected something else, and it wasn't as great as I'd like, but I can't say I share such strong opinions on it.

I myself am an Optimist who can see hope in the future, but it's not a future with der smiles und sunshine all the way.

If this is a jab at anarchy, I assure you its nothing like that.

careful:
i read this book in one sitting. just brilliant.

I did about half and half in two days. I was on vacation with it. Actually finished it beachside. Thank you.

joethekoeller:
I myself prefer Brave New World, but I guess Huxleyian doesn't flow of the tongue to well. Good review anyway, nice to see books finally getting some love on here.

Thank you.

Divine Miss Bee:
very nice review. :) i'm curious to see more-is there a timetable on that "prince" review?

Thank you. I don;t have one yet. Perhaps if I had some sort motivation to get it finished...

zombiestrangler:
Great review, even though I thought the book was boring as hell right until the end got remotely entertaining.

Thank you for commenting.

MasterMongoose0:
I enjoyed the review, one of my favorite books ever (if not my absolute favorite).

Didn't Shakespeare coin the adjective-named-after-you idea first? We call things Shakespearean (for reference, it doesn't come up with a red squiggly on firefox :P).

I don't know, but I can't argue with that logic.

Augustus Drakken:

Divine Miss Bee:
very nice review. :) i'm curious to see more-is there a timetable on that "prince" review?

Thank you. I don;t have one yet. Perhaps if I had some sort motivation to get it finished...

if a smile on my face would motivate you, then i can do that. otherwise, i have nothing to offer.

Divine Miss Bee:

Augustus Drakken:

Divine Miss Bee:
very nice review. :) i'm curious to see more-is there a timetable on that "prince" review?

Thank you. I don;t have one yet. Perhaps if I had some sort motivation to get it finished...

if a smile on my face would motivate you, then i can do that. otherwise, i have nothing to offer.

That is more than I could ever ask for.

Augustus Drakken:

Divine Miss Bee:

Augustus Drakken:

Thank you. I don;t have one yet. Perhaps if I had some sort motivation to get it finished...

if a smile on my face would motivate you, then i can do that. otherwise, i have nothing to offer.

That is more than I could ever ask for.

awww. you're just an old-fashioned charmer under that angry, rebellious exterior. :) there's your smile, cheri.

I really need to get around to reading this book. I'm actually trying to write a similar story: instead of English Socialism the government is a sort of Capitalist Theocracy.

HankMan:
I really need to get around to reading this book. I'm actually trying to write a similar story: instead of English Socialism the government is a sort of Capitalist Theocracy.

What the heck is Capitalist Theocracy? Is it a type of soup?

uuuummmmmmmm....soup

AssassinJoe:

HankMan:
I really need to get around to reading this book. I'm actually trying to write a similar story: instead of English Socialism the government is a sort of Capitalist Theocracy.

What the heck is Capitalist Theocracy? Is it a type of soup?

uuuummmmmmmm....soup

Oh go back to stabbing Italians Joe. It's all your pre-enlightenment mind can comprehend.

Not even two minutes ago I told someone that they should read this book. Now I come on to the sight to see this. Creepy haha.

Excellent review, and thanks for not giving too much away.

Im just up to the part where there is a 'book within a book' which perfectly explains the world of 1984 and the reasons for it.

I cant really see this terrifing future happening in this world, but if some things many years ago had changed...maybe...

I just hope this is killed before it gets out of hand. Well, books are fine, as long as you guys don't do reviews of the books containing philosophy. These reviews are often borne of a cursory reading of the subject material--and sometimes not even that--and really take away from the essence of the book.

ExtrCredits tried their hand with some philosophical stuff, and they totally butchered the subject material, sometimes with an apology and sometimes without. For the same reason, doing Machiavelli is a bad, bad idea.

I never thought about it like that.

Great reveiw but now I've got an urge to read 1984 again.

1984 IS AN AWESOME BOOK! THE ENDING IS JUST THE GREATEST TIP OF THE ICEBERG IN FICTIONAL BOOK HISTORY (actually maybe not, but hey) AND THE WORLD ORWELL CREATED IS F$%@#$G AWESOME! YAY!

My opinion of 1984 is that reading it is like getting your teeth pulled. The process is terrible, but in the end, you're glad you did it.

Giest4life:
I just hope this is killed before it gets out of hand. Well, books are fine, as long as you guys don't do reviews of the books containing philosophy. These reviews are often borne of a cursory reading of the subject material--and sometimes not even that--and really take away from the essence of the book.

ExtrCredits tried their hand with some philosophical stuff, and they totally butchered the subject material, sometimes with an apology and sometimes without. For the same reason, doing Machiavelli is a bad, bad idea.

I'm not exactly sure what your concern is.

That because I review books I will not give them adequate time and study? Or that in this review in particular I didn't cover the subject material quite thoroughly?

I read 1984 this summer, twice. And I've read the Prince 8 times since last year. And have written multiple essays on both.

Yes, I can see your point. Due to the constraints, I can't make this a college thesis in length that many such books deserve, but I don't think I butchered the material.

Augustus Drakken:

Giest4life:
I just hope this is killed before it gets out of hand. Well, books are fine, as long as you guys don't do reviews of the books containing philosophy. These reviews are often borne of a cursory reading of the subject material--and sometimes not even that--and really take away from the essence of the book.

ExtrCredits tried their hand with some philosophical stuff, and they totally butchered the subject material, sometimes with an apology and sometimes without. For the same reason, doing Machiavelli is a bad, bad idea.

I'm not exactly sure what your concern is.

That because I review books I will not give them adequate time and study? Or that in this review in particular I didn't cover the subject material quite thoroughly?

I read 1984 this summer, twice. And I've read the Prince 8 times since last year. And have written multiple essays on both.

Yes, I can see your point. Due to the constraints, I can't make this a college thesis in length that many such books deserve, but I don't think I butchered the material.

You're right, I think I was a bit vague in pointing out my concerns. But I certainly did not intend to take a shot at your scholarship, and neither do I think that you butchered this review of 1984.

It's on general principle that I object; reviews, such as this one, create a lot of misconceptions. Most people won't take heed of your advice, and they won't read the book. Instead, they will pretend that they know that which is worthwhile in the book, and pass of your view of the book as their own. It's not really your fault. Everyone does it. Most recently, I saw Will Durant commit the same mistake in his review of Nietzsche in his The Story of Philosophy.

But as I said before: it would be the most dangerous to review books of philosophy than of anything else. As Will Durant said, philosophy is regina sicantarium--queen of the sciences.

Every time I read this book I get something new from it. The scariest thing by far is the completeness to which the Party works, and the utter hopelessness of even thinking to work against them. I believe the Party's ways work so darn well, because they don't control in order to gain something - they do it for the sake of doing it. It's because of that purpose, that they will never make a mistake - they simply don't have any desires or ambitions that could possibly distract them from crushing society.

I agree that the book is a little dry at times, but it honestly gets better each read, and the more you think about it. The 'book within a book' is easily the most 'boring' section, pandering to Orwell's inner essayist, but it so perfectly explains the world of Oceania and the terrifyingly well-thought-out control mechanisms of the Party that it only serves to make the horror of Party control all the more chilling. It's just so perfect.

The scariest idea presented in the book though, is the idea of limiting language. Imagine not being able to express a thought? You wouldn't even know you couldn't, because you would have no language with which to describe the feeling - you wouldn't even know anything was wrong. If you can't express something, it doesn't really exist (same with the re-writing of history - if there is no proof except for a persons' memories, did that event really exist? you can't prove anything because only the Party's version of the truth is kept on record, and even that is changed at will). It is the on-going control of records, history and the media, combined with the constant limitation of the very language in which ideas are expressed that create the Party's complete control over society.

Great book, and really well written piece.

Giest4life:

You're right, I think I was a bit vague in pointing out my concerns. But I certainly did not intend to take a shot at your scholarship, and neither do I think that you butchered this review of 1984.

It's on general principle that I object; reviews, such as this one, create a lot of misconceptions. Most people won't take heed of your advice, and they won't read the book. Instead, they will pretend that they know that which is worthwhile in the book, and pass of your view of the book as their own. It's not really your fault. Everyone does it. Most recently, I saw Will Durant commit the same mistake in his review of Nietzsche in his The Story of Philosophy.

But as I said before: it would be the most dangerous to review books of philosophy than of anything else. As Will Durant said, philosophy is regina sicantarium--queen of the sciences.

Fair enough. I can see your point. I still plan to do The Prince, because I must put a smile on the face of the pretty little lady above, but after that I will think about how to confront this issue or simply stop altogether.

insectoid:

Great book, and really well written piece.

Thank you. And I really appreciate you sharing your in depth thoughts on the book.

I personally liked the "book within a book" part, but I may just be strange. I'll pick it up again soon to see if it does get better and better. Thank you.

 

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