I’m going to review George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four today but first – a few things that have caught my attention this week.
Right along the theme of today’s book review is this article. One of the most potent insights of Orwell’s book is the observation of the power of the past, the power of our history, or our perception of it, on our present. We have all heard “It’s the victors who write the history”, or some variation of it. As a society we must also take note of those who would re-write history for their own purpose in the present. Mr. Beck is not the only person to be attempting this feat at present, and it has been done in the past (the place of the cultures of natives in America, Australia, Tibet, and other countries have been rewritten more than once to justify a political agenda), but he is the most effective at present.
Another item that caught my attention this week is the trial of Roger Clemens. He lied to Congress. Excuse me? He lied to Congress? Check me on this if I am incorrect but are not those the very people who lie on an almost daily basis, both small and beyond belief, to the public who elected them? I have two questions: should we really be that put out when someone lies to them? And is this trial really worth the millions of dollars it is going to cost the taxpayers? Are there not more important matters that should have the attention of this elected body and more profitable arenas for this money? Mr. Clemens inflicted an unknown amount of damage on his own body while giving baseball fans a great show. I’m a baseball fan. I’m just not that upset. We are going to nail Mr. Clemens but allow those who were smarter or slipperier (Mark McGuire) to get away with the same offense? Nonsense I say.
Finally, I found this adorable and encouraging piece. I mean if this many men actually admit to it, I think that means many more are engaging in the practice aye? I think it’s grand myself.
Now to this week’s selection – Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has not only held up through time but is as applicable today, if not more so, than when it was written.
Lifespan: b.1903 (India), d. 1950 (England)
First Published: 1949
First Published by: Secker & Warburg (London)
Given Name: Eric Arthur Blair
The book is written as “a beautifully crafted warning against the dangers of a totalitarian society. Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling party in London whose every move is monitored by telescreens. Everywhere Winston goes, the party’s omniscient leader, Big Brother, watches him. …thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Winston, who works at the Ministry of Truth (Harry Potter anyone?) altering historical records …is frustrated and oppressed by the prohibitions on free thought, sex, and individuality. He illegally purchases a diary to record his thoughts and spends his evenings wandering the poor areas where the “porles” live, relatively free from monitoring. Winston starts an illicit affair with Julia, …they are caught by a party spy, and in Room 101, Winston is forced to confront his worst fear. Giving up his love for Julia in terror, Winston is released, his spirit broken and his acceptance of the party complete."
When the book was written in 1949 the nuclear age was only beginning and television was too expensive to be yet mainstreamed. “This is an important novel not only for its stark warning against abusive authority….but also for its insights into the power of manipulating language, history, and the psychology of fear and control.”
I remember reading this book for school when I was in my young teen years, and it terrified me then – I find it more frightening now with what I have seen of the world. I believe all told I have read it through three times and bits of it here and there through the years. I highly recommend this book as a read, and if you have read it once, do so again in the light of present day.