Review: 1984 by George Orwell
Published September 3rd 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published June 8th 1949)
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Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written. (Goodreads)
I’ll start by saying I don’t read a lot of classics. By not a lot I mean this is the only one I remember reading that I didn’t read as part of a school assignment. Stepping into the classics ring was challenging for me and I wouldn’t have made this step without my TBR challenge jar. I started with Walden, but very quickly decided I wanted the Spark Notes to go along with it once I did finally read it. I attempted to purchase them but was unable to find them in my local stores. I didn’t feel comfortable purchasing a classic so I used the Overdrive app and downloaded Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. This is another one that I would have liked to have the Spark Notes for, but I braved it without and dove in. My initial thoughts were intrigue and confusion. I think that was the purpose. I wasn’t able to truly enjoy the story because I felt I was too busy trying to figure things out. It didn’t get interesting to me until Julia finally slips Winston a note at work one day. From there I began to enjoy it and I loved the bits at Mr. Charrington’s shop and apartment. Unfortunately those parts didn’t last long enough as the plot continued with its “amalgam of several forms of class-based twentieth-century social theory“. I was able to read 81% of the book on my own, but only with pushing myself to finish, just finish. I finally gave up and skimmed the Cliff Notes for the remaining 6 chapters.
The characters were interesting and it’s really the only thing that kept me reading for as long as I did. Politics and government just aren’t things I enjoy reading about. There were times that I was worried that everything I was reading was real or could be real. There are many themes explored in this classic and I know a lot of people enjoy this book. It just wasn’t for me. I wanted to know more about what Winston wrote in his journal and I definitely didn’t want things to turn out the way they did. I don’t typically read classics so I felt I would leave it unrated. I have read Animal Farm, also by Orwell and I remember enjoying it. Maybe if I ever get in the mood for a good classic I will re-read that.