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for the record

Just keeping track of the books I've read and my thoughts on them.



1984 - George Orwell, Erich Fromm

I read this book as the first book in our recently established bookclub. 


Obviously there's no denying the genius of the book. Written in 1948, the imagined world of 1984 is in some ways so close to 2015 it's scary. 


The book seemed divided into parts, even though there wasn't an actual division. The first part is a quite lengthy introduction in which you get a glimpse of Winston's life in Oceania and the system that rules that society. The government is keeping stabs on the while society, but especially on the middle class (the outer party) with a bit less on the working class (the proles). This is done through Telescreens. These telescreens send and receive data. I don't mean to sound conspiracy theorist, but smart phones? Basically have the same function. Anyway, the introduction is so lengthy that you spend a good part of the book wondering what the story is actually about. But you get the chance to wonder about the way people in Oceania are thinking and how they're controlled. The influence of the media is reinforced something that rings true till this day.


The second part seems to be mostly about sex. Winston's obsession with it, it's prohibition, etc.


The third part is about the party and its workings. Winston joins the rebellion which has a kind of handbook. The text from this book forms a good part of 1984. The text wasn't uninteresting, in fact it was interesting, but it was a bit long.


The last part is Winston getting caught. This was an exciting part (especially compared to the rest) and quite gruesome in some ways. The ending in my opinion is just right. Even though I didn't like Julia throughout the book, I liked her in her last scene a lot.


There was a quote which I liked a lot "The best books are those that tell you what you know already."


...A book that organizes your thoughts and puts them eloquently and extracts the thoughts you didn't even know you were thinking.


The principles of Newspeak also greatly interested me. By limiting the words the society uses, the thoughts of the people are limited. This reminded me of a quote:

"To say something new is first of all to reaffirm the traces of the past that are inscribed in the words we use." Saussure



If judged by the pace and the presence of some long boring parts this book would probably get a 2.5 or 3 star rating from me. But the novelty of the book and the ingenuity make up for a lot, making it a 4.


(Read in October 2015)