Tuesday, 12 February 2013

May 2010 - 1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell's 1984, only our third discussion but likely our most heated so far. Plenty to discuss from how accurate his predictions were, to how unrealistic certain themes were received (such as the thought police).

Many who found the book quite hard going  continued to read it due to its classic status, some were pleased they persevered others still not quite understanding it fully at the end.

One thing we did agree on, was that if you were reading the book, pre 1984  with a growing whiff of insecurity about whats just hiding around the corner, it must have been quite chilling. The growing political strains, the aftermath of WW2 and the uncertain rising fear over the Cold War all a real and sensitive subject for many, but how Orwell was able to engage fear into the reader, about just how bad things may become before the year 1984. Although reading the book as either Sci-Fi or political propaganda, much of Orwell's predictions became extremely real for many in the real World.

The concept of the novel was fantastic, the ideas were great, although some of us found the writing style very monotone and sterile (which may just be a reflection of the novel itself). The group were 50/50 on the characters, either loving them or hating them. Everyone could describe a profound part or theme in the book which grasped them such as room 101 and the torture scenes, and the similarities between the themes in the book and the Nazi reign of terror.
I myself admit that the thought police was a silly idea (seriously, controlling your thoughts??) but after speaking with the group, one member with first hand knowledge of what its like growing up in another country, it became clear that actually the idea wasn't so silly. If people were brought up to think a certain way, told that they cannot think anything bad against their leader or else a family member would lose their job or worse, the fear would sink in, and you would refrain from thinking against the majority. Although the term thought police is a bit extreme, punishment for thinking out of place under communist regimes was very real.

The book was very good for its time, and with a great concept, Marmite characters, and an understandably (although not liked by all) dull tone throughout. It does certainly deserve its classic status.

This meeting was attended by 10 members and scored an average of 7/10.

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