The 1940s saw a world once again embroiled in war and a changing society. This week your Reading Passport journey continues with a look at a classic from George Orwell who created a dystopian future in the novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
George Orwell was reacting to the creation of the totalitarian states of the 1930s. He was an astute political commentator and had in mind the example of Stalin’s USSR. Orwell’s totalitarian nightmare has given us some recurring cultural jargon. Big Brother, Room 101, the Thought Police and Doublethink are ideas so common that many don’t realise they came from Orwell’s imagination. His functional plots and plain prose give these ideas special power in creating the horrors of the ultimate police state.
The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four is nightmarish and drab where dissatisfied citizen Winston Smith has a brief liberating affair with fellow rebel Julia, but soon finds that the true price of freedom is betrayal. What holds readers is the fate of the books protagonists, and their doomed attempt to taste freedom. The book succeeds because it an absorbing and deeply affecting story. The novel creates a world so plausible, so complete that to read it is to experience another world. And what higher goal can fiction reach for than that?
If you enjoy the dystopian world of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” then why not try Orwell’s novella “Animal Farm”, an allegorical tale of animals taking over the farm, published in 1945.