Hate week, telescreen, thought police, Newspeak, Doublethink, Crimestop, Prole, Ingsoc, Airstrip one, Oceania-Eurasia-Eastasia, unpersons, facecrime, jus primae noctis, Oligarchical collectivism, Room 101, Solipsism
I generally do not read novels and fictions. Two weeks ago I bought some classics for a change and this book is one of them. The story is set in future i.e. 1984 (the book was published in 1949) in a country where a totalitarian regime rules. When I was reading it I felt like the words used (or invented) in it are probably used in a lot of SciFi movies. I guess it happens when you are reading a good novel 70 years late 😉 I will try to keep it spoiler free as this book has some shocking moments. Also all the terms I mentioned in interesting themes section will not be explained here as I think this will kill the fun in case you decide to read this book.
The story is that of a freethinker protagonist in a totalitarian regime, who himself is a clerical worker in that regime. The world is said to have been divided between three super-nations. The situation in the other two nations are not explicitly described but the author has left hints that indicate they could not be much different than the one where the story takes place. The society is divided into layers; the inner party 2%, the outer party 13% and the proles (common people) 85%. All commodities are rationed, the party members are always monitored through devices and spies, a new language is created to delink people from old ways and free thinking is a crime punishable by death. Children are put into programs to make them loyal to the party, hate sex, hate the so called traitors and basically to discard all kind of human relationships except loyalty to party. The protagonist in this society questions himself about the party (crime 1) secretly, falls in love (crime 2) and trusts a higher official who he thinks is a member of a secret society. His journey and transformation is the central theme of this book.
As I was reading the book, the control methods of the IngSoc party i.e worshiping a symbolic all powerful leader, hating a symbolic enemy of the nation, war hysteria, rationing of commodities looked too similar to communism. But the second half of the book explains the difference through conversation between two important characters. The disturbing part where children are fed propaganda from an early age is such a real threat in any society, almost like creating worker ants. They would not know any better.
Conclusion & rating:
This is a classic and definitely worth reading. A mix between political awareness and also satirical. This book is relevant even today if you want to understand how a small number of people can control a nation and those people themselves are slaves of an ideology. Any part of the ruling machinery can be replaced, any part that revolts can be purged without the ideology itself being harmed.