Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of the requirements for me to read in one of my university modules; Modernist to Contemporary to Present Day Literature (a crazy title for a module, I know). After consulting a few people who had previously read this book, I was under the impression that it is essentially a classic and that within it, there are elements that are seen in society now. So, I read through the book, it nearly took a month (embarrassing), but I got there in the end. And to be honest, I was not that fascinated by it. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t bad, it just maybe wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. Naturally, there were moments that were less engaging than others, inevitable in any book really, but within 1984, there just seemed to be passages that, to me, just dragged on and on (see Part 2 of the book and the overly long chapters within chapters). Possibly, you just have to be in the correct frame of mind for such a piece of literature – and maybe I just wasn’t.
Now, the story is (obviously) set in 1984, which is what we’re told from the protagonist, Winston Smith, but whether he is a reliable narrator or not is not exactly for debate as we only get his side throughout the three part novel. He doesn’t exactly agree with what is going on around him – but with the overly strict society, it is impossible for him to rebel. After meeting and collaborating with a love interest, they embark on a journey to find out what true freedom really is and how to get there.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Mainly because, though I really enjoyed it, there were moments where I felt the text dragged on and on or was just slightly too repetitive for my taste. Generally speaking, I knew that I wanted to read this book at some point in my life, and had I chosen to read it upon my free will maybe I would have found it more interesting and engaging, versus having it assigned to me for my course.
Some quotes from the text;
With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. (p.28-9)
Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act. (p.145)
… As O’Brien passed the telescreen a thought seemed to strike him. He stopped, turned aside and pressed a switch on the wall. There was a sharp snap. The voice had stopped. … ‘You can turn it off!’ he said ‘Yes,’ said O’Brien, ‘we can turn it off. We have that privilege.’ (p. 196)