Orwell‘s 1984 is a modernist novel written in 1948 and published a year later. Regarding its literary genre, the novel is a dystopian social science fiction and offers to its readers an elaborate description of what totalitarian regimes imply. Diving into the Orwellian fictional universe would help you gain great insights into human behaviour and shape a new perspective on history, because as Umberto Eco suggests ‘‘…at least three-quarters of what Orwell narrates is not negative Utopia, but history.’’
That being said, here are some reasons why Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell definitely deserves your attention and time.
Resemblances with our Contemporary Times
Remember that literature is a reflection of reality and while you will be reading it, you will be able to track down connections with our real world. Now you probably wonder how is it even possible, since we are living in a time where most of the countries are democratic and they are supposed to combat totalitarian practices. Well, it does not actually matter, because some of the ideas presented in 1984 are quite alive in our times, regardless of the political system.
I am not saying that the practices described in the book are identical with what we encounter nowadays, because obviously they are adapted to our modern times, but if you read it carefully, you will find a lot of resemblances. To give you an example, the Party INGSOC headed by Big Brother used ‘‘telescreens’’ to record every conversation and watch every movement of everyone all the time. Likewise, we always have a smartphone around us that records our movements on the internet and gives us advertisements about something we’ve searched for or discussed. Quite similar, right?
2. The Importance of Free Speech and Language
Free speech and language are indispensable for an individual who identifies a problem and wants to point it out in order to express himself and raise awareness. It is widely known that totalitarian regimes suppress the freedom of speech as a means of maintaining their tyrannic ideology and manipulate the masses. Nineteen Eighty-Four clearly brings into perspective the importance of these and shows us why they are inseparable. In the novel, you will see that not only the free speech is restricted, but also the language and surprisingly, the freedom of thought.
The Party INGSOC created a new language called Newspeak which had a very limited vocabulary. When you restrict language, the most important faculty of the human mind which enables us to rationalize and speak, you absolutely reduce individuals to a primitive level. It is a chain reaction because by limiting language, you also obliterate the complexity of thought and free speech. Thus, by entering Orwell’s fictional realm you will learn that banning the freedom of speech and language has terrible consequences on society as a whole, but also on each individual.
‘‘Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought.’’- George Orwell
3. Banned from Russia and USA
Last but not least, Nineteen Eighty-Four was banned in the past from Russia and America. In communist Russia, the book was banned and burned in 1950 when Stalin was in rule because obviously, it was anti-communist. In 1990, after the book was edited, it circulated again in the country. In 1981, the novel was challenged in Jackson County, Florida for being pro-communist and contained explicit sexual content. Hence, I believe that such a book like Orwell’s 1984 which provoked controversies and even contradictory opinions is absolutely worth giving a shot.