Original title: 1984.
Title of this edition: 1984.
Author: George Orwell.
Editorial: Salvat Editores.
Edition year: 1, 1970.
Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: This book focuses in the later days of Winston Smith, a member of the party which own thoughts makes him to reconsider the world that has been put in front of his eyes. In a future where the World is divided into three massive countries, each of them has established a totalitarian control of the population to ensure that the status quo remains the same. Winston’s country, Oceania is ruled by the big brother who watches everyone and controls their lives and though.
The strategy followed by the big brother to prevent any revolution from happening is based in changing the past, stopping science, keep a war always going on, constant surveillance, and fear. The main idea is that any of the 3 countries can win the final war, hence there is no point in winning the war, however, war makes industry useful, because only by destroying the production of the industry it can keeps working. The point about controlling though, historical data, and fear, is that nobody will trust anybody else and also they will not trust themselves, because… how many times history was changed?
Living in this world, Winston starts to hate the big brother because he has become aware that everything is a lie to prevent a revolution. Free from the control of the big brother, Winston starts to think and wander around the city. That’s how he meet Julia and fells in love with her. As lovers, Winston and Julia start to unfollow the rules and soon they are caught by the party.
Captured they are tortured to the point where they hate themselves, they hate the big brother, and also they betray each other. After that moment they are re-educated again and let free, because now they love the big brother again and they will come back to ask for execution as punishment, because now they hate everything that is against the party and the big brother.
Personal Review: Nineteen eighty four represents a pivotal point in science fiction because it shows us what can happen if we transfer too much power to the government. Ironically, it was written after the WWII, in 1949. Orwell, who was British was fearing that British democracy could not survive a world where people will fear the A-bomb and where the influence of the government made WWII happen. I said ironically, because Orwell was inspired by WWII, but what happened in the soviet union was pretty much what Orwell depicted in his novel… and it started before his novel was published, and last for another 40 years at least.
Despite I knew the plot of this book and I watched the movie, it is the first time I read it. I have to say that the movie is a very good adaptation (but as a movie is a bad movie). The best part for me was when Winston reads Goldstein’s book and learns what his world is about. The second best part is the torture, and it is good because it really made me pass through an internal reflection. The point where Winston is scared about the rats eating her face is… how can I explain it, because of that experience, he betrayed Julia, he asked them to put Julia there instead of him just to escape from the rats. I have though a lot about that scene and I can only come to the conclusion that it is the ultimate torture, because they took from him the only thing that he cared for, his love for Julia, moreover, they took from him the only thing he though cannot be touched by them.
By the way, this book makes me think of Fahrenheit 451 , the novel by Ray Bradbury.The sense that both novels aim to control population toughs by controlling their access to culture. Both authors feared a similar future, and they made it realistic enough to actually think that one day it can happen. It is interesting now, with many years from the novels, to think that we are on the other side, everyone has several copies of a book, there is media in millions of serves, computers, hard drives… and so on and so on. So it is very difficult to alter something that actually happen. However, there is a tendency to store media in a single master file and instead of each one owning a copy, stream the data from one master copy to all the users. That can be the beginning of something like what these books propose. But I’m not that pessimist, I think that culture will never again be controlled at that level and in the future we will see an even bigger diffusion of media, culture, and ideas.