1984 by George Orwell

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C’mon, admit it, you love dystopian novels. The Hunger Games, The 5th Wave, Divergent, all are popular teen novels that kids love reading these days. But how about older dystopian novels? Those ones that actually have the tragic end that they were promising from the beginning of a broken down world? Sure, I could be talking about Fahrenheit 451, another really great older dystopian novel, but I am talking about the one I enjoyed even more: 1984.

Although written in 1949, it talks about a world that has experienced wars ever since WWII, only to be pulled out of the dumpster by a totalitarian government that gave the people total war, slavery, and ignorance. The nation of Oceania controls this post war London, where there is never enough products, and everything already there, like houses, is over 50 years old. Winston, who works in the government, notices this but keeps on writing lies to public so that they would like the government more. After meeting a person he likes, O’Brien, and a person he hates, Julia, he starts to want to rebel.

I really liked the themes of the book. The government is always watching them, which is cool. We also sometimes take freedom for granted, but as Winston says, he doesn’t even have the freedom to say 2+2=4.

However, there is some adult things to be worried about, like a graphic torture scene or two, and a lot of themes of fertility. I also did not personally like the main character. Although he perfectly suited the themes of the novel, I kept screaming at him to not be stupid.

And, finally, this is a really great novel. Even if you don’t like old books, you’ll love the idea of corrupt governments, and a desire for freedom.

-Megan V

1984 by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: George Orwell

george_orwellBest known for his haunting dystopian classics, George Orwell was an extremely influential British author, capable of expressing his powerful political views through his writing. Living in England from 1903 to 1950, during an era where the rise of totalitarianism was prominent, Orwell’s numerous works brought awareness to social injustice and offered a unique political perspective during a disturbed, chaotic time. Through literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and journalism, he conveyed his opposition to Nazism in Germany, fascism in Italy, and Stalinism in Russia, as well as expressed his outspoken support for democratic socialism.

1984_georgeorwellOne of his best known works is the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is set in the future world of Oceania that is occupied by perpetual war. Extreme public manipulation and omnipresent government supervision is utilized to prevent individualism and any form of independent thinking. Society is separated into the privileged and controlling Inner Party elite, the Outer Party, and the “proles,” the lowest class. The novel follows Winston Smith, whose job focuses on propaganda and rewriting history so that everything meets the Party’s needs. Although compliant and skillful in his work, Winston secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebelling against Big Brother, the supposed Party leader and epitome of tyranny.

Orwell’s second well-known work is the allegorical novella Animal Farm, which parallels the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the beginning of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union. The novella tells the story of the mistreated animals of Manor Farm, who overthrow their master Mr. Jones and take over the farm. Initially, the animals imagine a life of freedom and equality, but eventually, the cunning and ruthless rebels, led by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, start to take control. Suddenly, the animals discover that their world of equality is virtually impossible, as they find themselves trapped as one form of tyranny is replaced by another.

animalfarm_georgeorwellIn both of these works, Orwell compares his characters to real political figures in history. For example, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Big Brother represents Stalin. In Animal Farm, Mr. Jones represents Tsar Nicholas in Russia before he is overthrown and the pigs Napoleon and Snowball symbolize Stalin and Trotsky. I especially love Orwell’s writing, as it is chilling and insightful, yet simple and easy to understand. Incredibly influential, Orwell’s works continues to shape popular and political culture, and the term “Orwellian” is still used to describe totalitarian practices, with terms such as Big Brother, thoughtcrime, and Though Police. Even if you are not a big fan of politics, like me, I encourage you to read at least one of Orwell’s works during your lifetime, as it will make you question the world we live in and imagine what we could be living like today, if the forces of democracy had not triumphed over authoritarianism.

The works of George Orwell, and those mentioned in this article, are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360