Wednesday, May 9, 2012


A couple weeks ago, my professor started our class asking "What books/authors do you think English majors must read before graduating?" There were a lot of varied answers and I'll admit I hadn't read a fair amount (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Eliot, Welty . . . and I've only read short stories by Woolf and Faulkner).

But the one that I felt most ashamed of was George Orwell. I had never read a book by George Orwell. Somehow I missed 1984 in high school when it seemed like every other English class was reading it.

But with just a few days left till graduation, I finally finished 1984 yesterday! So I can accept my diploma without shame (because who really cares about Tolstoy or Eudora Welty!) :)

Orwell obviously has some interesting ideas about society (looking at the governments' role in society, freedom vs. control, etc.). There's a reason this book is so often taught in schools and why the term "Big Brother" became such a well-known part of the English lexicon. Keeping citizens under complete surveillance, building a society based on hate, the need for constant warfare, the ability to erase and manipulate history (and thus manipulate people's memories) . . . So many great, thought-provoking ideas!

Unfortunately, I don't think the rest of the novel really lives up to Orwell's premise. The characters are not very thoroughly described, so I didn't feel much of a connection to their actions and goals. The plot is not very well-paced (the first 100 pages are boring set-up, the middle contains a huge chunk of text from a book a character is reading, etc.). By the end, I didn't even care what happened to Winston.

I also wasn't sure I completely understood the society (Would the government really not care about controlling the proles because they think they're stupid? They're 85% of the population!).

Still a really interesting idea. I think I prefer Brave New World though.

Have you read 1984? Did you like it? Is Animal Farm better?

TITLE: 1984
AUTHOR: George Orwell
VERDICT: 3/5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I liked 1984 better than both Brave New World and Animal Farm.


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