intraspace: the review lounge

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

nineteen eighty-four

nineteen eighty-four, by george orwell

you tell yourself that you should read these classic books, and you put it off because even though they are classics you really have no idea what you are going to encounter. i think 'moby dick' has a lot to answer for in this respect. i started reading that book expecting to be absorbed by a rollicking tale of a captain hunting down a particularly nasty white whale. instead, it ended up being 'everything i know about whaling, by herman melville'. terrible tedious stuff with tiny bits of narrative thrown so that melville could claim it was a story. perhaps i've judged too harshly - i never did reach the end (although i intend to one day). but this 'moby dick' gives classics a bad name.

however, i'm into futuristic sci-fi movies and i had an inkling that '1984' was a predecessor to that narrative form. and one day anna was going down to the library and asked if there was anything i wanted. and i thought, "now, what were the books i was going to read?" and i remembered this one.

i started reading it immediately and was pleasantly surprised that 1984 is nothing like moby dick - in fact it is very readable (nearly 200 years of development of the novel form has clearly paid off). it was published the year before orwell died in 1949, and is one of orwell's two most famous novels - the other one being 'animal farm'. as is usual with orwell, the work is very political and allegorical, but that is carried along by good novelistic devices that make the story absorbing.

the book gets a little bit bogged down in one section and part 3 (the last part) is not quite so action-packed. that's all ok though, because the aim of the book is not really to entertainment, but to paint a picture of the distopia that could develop under a socialist totalitarian system. unfortunately the book doesn't have a happy ending, but that suits the story so is probably the best conclusion.

i wouldn't read this if you need cheering up, but if you're into narratives about the future (like me) then definitely get into it. the volume i got was the 'complete novels' and i think i might be back to read more of orwell later.

warandpeace-o-meter: 785/981 (volIII, bookXIII, chapI)

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