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Old 08-22-2009, 01:35 PM   #1
pilotbob
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Discussion: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (spoiliers)

Hey all... its time to start discussing this months book club selection.

Speak your mind... nothing you say here will get the thought police after you!

BOb
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:34 AM   #2
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It's a really strange book. I'm not sure what I think of it, have you ever read Ayn Rand's Anthem? Anthem is almost 1984 carried to it's (Big Brother's intended) conclusion. I'll know more as I get farther in to the book.
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:58 AM   #3
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Well I finished, IMO it was laborous, boring reading. I doubt I got anything out of the exercise.
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Old 08-27-2009, 01:41 AM   #4
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I really like 'Nineteen Eighty Four' and think it a very thought provoking book. The parallels with modern life, in the UK at least, are striking - political doublespeak, increasing surveillance, softening attitudes to torture, wars with unclear aims. The way in which Winston and Julia's love for each other is destroyed, and replaced with their genuine love for Big Brother, subverts our commonly held notions of what love is. In many ways, the book makes us question how much we are the dupes of present-day propaganda, and encourages us to question everything, even if it is ultimately futile to do so.
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Old 08-27-2009, 10:12 AM   #5
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I feel that the parallels with modern life, as Sparrow mentions are quite valid, and something we are all too aware of. (Pardon the dangling participle.). I just didn't see a meed to see the extrapolation.
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:23 AM   #6
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Recently at work, our boss has told us that Human Resources have decreed we should not express 'negative' opinions, as it doesn't encourage the type of behaviours they want to foster.
Not surprising really - they're total w*&!"rs!

(That's not being negative - we're absolutely positive HR are total w*&!"rs! )
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:32 AM   #7
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I haven't read 1984 since my senior year of high school in 1981. (It was an advanced class.) We read it along with Animal Farm to compare and contrast. The teacher was a former female army person, very old and cranky. In fact, she is one of two teachers that both my mother and I had in high school! She was strict and ran her classroom like it was basic training or something! She is the one who had our advanced class crying because of having to read Milton's Paradise Lost. Heavy stuff for 17 year olds!

She told us how it had been in occupied Japan after the war, when she was there. The book was new then, and was about how the Cold War was starting, etc. She related to the book from her own experiences.

I remember 1984 like it was only yesterday (the book not the year which is sort of blurry) because it was an older book that was so relevant to what was going on at the time. The country was in a terrible recession as we were looking at leaving high school and trying to find a future in a bleak economy while our government was spending all of its money on expanding the military. Our takeaway lesson was to look out for #1 and do anything it took to get ahead. We weren't afraid of Big Brother, and in fact, we wanted to be Big Brother. The 80's was a very harsh and superficial decade.

I remember that 1984 and Animal Farm got peeled down to the skeleton in that class. Turns out that they are the same book under the skin. The message that came through to us was that power over the weak always leads to abuse of the weak, as seen in real life every day in the Soviet Union. And since the Soviet citizens were mostly very poor, except for the leaders, well, we '80's yuppie wannabes saw that as the bedrock truth pretty quickly. The citizens were just trying to find a future in a bleak economy while their government was spending all of the money on expanding the military.

Orwell did not really write about anything new. His talent was that he wrote about the same things that happen again and again in a way that was new and fresh. I wonder what the book means to young people today who will be looking at leaving high school and trying to find a future in a bleak economy while our government is spending all of its money on expanding the military.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:41 PM   #8
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I've haven't read it recently but I enjoyed it when I did.

Quote:
"My recent novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter) but as a show-up of the perversions ... which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism. ...The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere."
Orwell — Collected Essays

I think the novel is most effective in portraying the media as a slave to a totalitarian regime and the way this affects even the language of the people through newspeak. One only needs to watch Fox News and their ilk to see how "newspeak" has become rather commonplace.

However I feel Orwell is strongest in his quasi-journalistic novels especially Down and Out in London and Paris and The Road to Wigan Pier. His fictional characters are not as engaging as the real people he describes.
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:50 AM   #9
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I read 1984 a few months ago. I found the book fascinating... but a few thoughts occurred to me all the same.

1. Despite claims to the contrary, the Inner Party would inevitably tend toward the stratification that it claims to prevent. Certainly inner party members would ultimately try to take advantage of their status to ensure that their children were also inner party members.. sooner or later, that tension would cause a break in the inner party.

2. Newspeak, while necessary for control of the inner and outer party, would also be the undoing of the system. Right now, the system depended on making sure none of the Proles because smart/strong enough to subvert the system.. But as Newspeak replaces standard English amongst the Party, it would become increasingly hard for the Party to monitor the Proles.

--
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:52 AM   #10
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I was very pleased to have read the book.

The idea that the party are in power for power's sake, and know that's what they're doing was interesting. The way the possibility of arrest is ever-present, and the atmosphere of hopelessness was very well done. But I don't buy the idea that the party will survive even another 50 years.

I was also unconvinced that the party could rise to power in the first place in England.

Then I read Shattered Crystals, a holocaust memoir. The description of how quickly the society changed is astonishing. Knowing the overall facts is one thing, but having a first hand account of how it affected one family in detail, month by month and year by year is quite another. Recommended.

And it made me look at 1984 in a new light. Not a fanciful warning - a real warning. While the detail is fictional, the overall picture could happen, anywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
Hey all... its time to start discussing this months book club selection.

Speak your mind... nothing you say here will get the thought police after you!

BOb
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:14 PM   #11
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I loved 1984 when I read it a few months ago. I thought the ending was extremely thought provoking. As much as we all think we could be stronger than that, would we have done the same thing?
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilac_jive View Post
I loved 1984 when I read it a few months ago. I thought the ending was extremely thought provoking. As much as we all think we could be stronger than that, would we have done the same thing?
I think yes, most would do the same thing. It is hard to challenge authority even when it is so obviously corrupt. Look at Hitler, people in his own party tried to assassinate him. Look at Sadam Hussien's regime and how most of the world turned a blind eye to the genocide he was perpetrating. Look at China... I think to have an Olympics there was a validation of that countries government. Look at North Korea...

Heck, look at the US. George Bush's wire tapping, suspending Habeus Corpus, open people mail. All without probable cause and judicial oversight. The cries of if you are doing nothing wrong, what have you go to hide. Holding "enemy combatants" without telling them what they are charged with or what evidence there is against them. How do you fight something when you don't know what it is you are supposed to fight. I am talking about US citizens here, not just international citizens that were jailed and held in Guantanamo for years without any due process.

Where was the public outcry for stuff like that? Sure, there were reports and people saying it was bad, it was unconsitutional. But, George Bush is the "decider". What the president does or says is the law... I think some other president way back when said that. I can't remember which.

Heck, even take a look at the IRS... if there is an audit you are guilty until proven innocent. Your funds and assests can be seized before and investigation takes place.

Most people will say that you must give up your freedoms for your safety. But... what happens when it is you, or your spouse, or your child? The US is nothing without the founding principles set forth in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I think 1984 was an incredible exaggeration with 100% of your freedom gone. Everything is controlled, even history is changed to match what is said. The people are lied to about a war to be cowed into doing without so the troupes can be supported. Even when it was so obvious people let it happen... it is very hard to fight those in power, specifically because they are in power.

Wow... I didn't mean to get so political.

BOb

Last edited by pilotbob; 08-29-2009 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 08-29-2009, 03:08 PM   #13
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Bob, interesting points. I think part of the issue is the belief you can't change anything. Certainly 1984 is an exaggeration of all of that, but what fascinates me is even in the face of blatant truth the human mind can be twisted and corrupted to believe those falsehoods. I read that book and at the end thought, well shoot, I'd probably do the same thing. Pretty scary.
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:01 PM   #14
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I'm not presently part of the book club, but I've read 1984 many times and have also assigned as a reading in Sociology classes. I find the "war on terror" a chilling simile to the endless war against Eurasia and Eastasia. As others have pointed out in this discussion, at times I'll hear or read something that strikes a chord with that book. Two minutes hate against health care reform, anyone?

BTW, they did an excellent job with the movie. John Hurt as Winston - perfect.
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Old 09-03-2009, 08:49 PM   #15
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My favorite 1984 cover:

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