"Nineteen Eighty-Four" revealed George Orwell as one of the twentieth century's greatest mythmakers. While the totalitarian system that provoked him into writing it has since passed into oblivion, his harrowing cautionary tale of a man trapped in a political nightmare has had the opposite fate: its relevance and power to disturb our complacency seem to grow decade by decade. In Winston Smith's desperate struggle to free himself from an all-encompassing, malevolent state, Orwell zeroed in on tendencies apparent in every modern society, and made vivid the universal predicament of the individual.… (more)
li33ieg: 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451: 3 essential titles that remind us of the need to keep our individual souls pure.
Ludi_Ling: Really, the one cannot be mentioned without the other. Actually, apart from the dystopian subject matter, they are very different stories, but serve as a great counterpoint to one another.
Anonymous user: It's essential to read Huxley's and Orwell's books together. Both present the ultimate version of the totalitarian state, but there the similarities end. While Orwell argues in favour of hate and fear, Huxley suggests that pleasure and drugs would be far more effective as controlling forces. Who was the more prescient prophet? That's what every reader should decide for him- or herself.… (more)
readafew: Both books are about keeping the people in control and ignorant.
hipdeep: 1984 is scary like a horror movie. Fahrenheit 451 is scary like the news. So - do you want to see something really scary?
BookshelfMonstrosity: A man's romance-inspired defiance of menacing, repressive governments in bleak futures are the themes of these compelling novels. Control of language and monitors that both broadcast to and spy on people are key motifs. Both are dramatic, haunting, and thought-provoking.… (more)
Anonymous user: Huxley and Zamyatin are practically the canon recommendations for this work, so much so that they hardly need to be mentioned, let alone mentioned again.. Therefore, let me instead recommend a lesser-known work that likewise influenced Orwell's work: Burdekin's dystopian future-history, Swastika Night… (more)
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
"BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU."
"WAR IS PEACE. SLAVERY IS FREEDOM. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."
Freedom is the freedom to know that two plus two make four.
Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two plus two might make five, but when one was designing a fun or an airplane they had to make four.
Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.
The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.
We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.
If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.
Power is in inflicting pain and humiliations. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.... We are creating a world of fear and treachery and torment ... a world which will grow not less but MORE merciless.... In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement.... There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
She had become a physical necessity, something that he not only wanted but felt that he had a right to.
The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought ... every year fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. ... What was required was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which ... roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker's mind. ... The smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought.
Winston fitted a nib into the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off. The pen was an archaic instrument, seldom used even for signatures, and he had procured one, furtively and with some difficulty, simply because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being scratched with an ink-pencil. Actually he was not used to writing by hand. Apart from very short notes, it was usual to dictate everything into the speak-write, which was of course impossible for his present purpose.
Such things he saw could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion or deep and complex sorrows.
And if all the others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records contained the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.
Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious
The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.
Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in going through back files of the Times and altering and embellishing news items which were to be quoted in speeches.
At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little.
In so far as he had time to remember it, he was not troubled by the fact that every word he murmured into the speakwrite, every stroke of his ink pencil, was a deliberate lie.
War prisoners apart, the average citizen of Oceania never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or Eastasia, and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them are lies.
Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.
"How does one man assert power over another, Winston?"
Winston thought. "By making him suffer," he said.
Countless other words such as honor, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science, and religion had simply ceased to exist.
...a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgment should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets.
Books like Orwell's are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too. (Erich Fromm)
"Nineteen Eighty-Four" revealed George Orwell as one of the twentieth century's greatest mythmakers. While the totalitarian system that provoked him into writing it has since passed into oblivion, his harrowing cautionary tale of a man trapped in a political nightmare has had the opposite fate: its relevance and power to disturb our complacency seem to grow decade by decade. In Winston Smith's desperate struggle to free himself from an all-encompassing, malevolent state, Orwell zeroed in on tendencies apparent in every modern society, and made vivid the universal predicament of the individual.
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George Orwell describes a grey, totalitarian future ruled by Big Brother and his wide network of agents, including the Thought Police - a world where news is fabricated according to the authorities' wishes and people live lukewarm lives by rote. Winston Smith, a hero who lacks heroic attributes, merely wants truth and decency. But he realises there is no hope for him in a society where privacy is non-existent and individuals with unconventional thoughts are brainwashed or executed. Even though the year 1949 has passed, George Orwell's nightmare picture of the world we were creating remains the great modern classic portrait of a negative Utopia.