Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell was written in 1949 right after World War II. At that time there were a lot of people who were ignorant about what atrocities took place during the war, especially throughout Europe. Hitler’s rise to power was attributed to his propaganda machine which distributed disinformation to the young people of Germany, convincing them that Jews and anyone with dark skin was inferior and plotting against the elitist white aryan race. It is therefore no surprise that the novel focuses on an oppressive political regime called INGSOC (for English Socialism) who actively disseminates propaganda against Eurasia.
The story is told and seen through the eyes of a middle-aged white man named Smith who works in the propaganda department of INGSOC. His job is to re-write history so that it’s skewed toward the goals and ideology of INGSOC. Every day he takes old newspapers and rewrites them then disposes of the previous version. Secretly he wants to be different, to be an individual, but individuality is considered a thought crime and ruthlessly prosecuted by the Thought Police (the Gestapo of this novel).
At the time it was written, 1984 was an important look into how indoctrination can turn an entire generation of young people into monsters. Today it’s still a well-read novel by many Russians and foreigners from socialist countries because it reminds them of the world they’ve escaped. As an American though it’s very boring and oppressive. I have very little in common with Smith and could hardly empathize with him when he made so many mistakes that eventually bring him to torture and compliance.
4 out of 10 stars. It’s a classic, but I was bored. It’s not really very science fictiony either although it’s listed as a sci-fi novel.
Reviewed by Erin.