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Book review

Literature genre of dystopia appeared in the first part of the 20th century due to numerous historical and social changes. Huge tempos of scientific and technical progress, arising and step by step disappointment in the bourgeois ideas, development of the depersonalized consumer society, and fear of fascism caused the interest in this kind of novels. Dystopia genre has been established by Y. Zamyatin (novel “We”, 1923) and cultivated by George Orwell with his work “1984”, which resulted from Orwell’s frustration in the socialist ideas.


Year 1984. Gray, desperate world, divest of colors and happiness. Four Ministries are regulating the way of life: Peace Ministry by making a war; Love Ministry dealing with killing and tortures; Truth Ministry by unceasing distribution of lie; Ministry of Plenty by dealing with food supply (or rather with a hunger). All these ministries that were supposed to help people are diffusing them instead, distorting the history, and making from citizens moral immobilizes not able to distinguish truth from lie. Orwell represents a devastating society ruled by a single party with a single ideology. He describes regime that is impossible to resist; that thought out everything: your life, your thoughts, and your soul are in their hands. A reminder “Big Brother is watching you” appears everywhere. Iniquitous totalitarian machine presses hard on you from the novel’s pages. The Party dominates over each aspect of life, over every thought. Saving ignorance is the only choice for a party’s member. Any move, any facial expression that can implant doubts regarding the party loyalty grants you an arrangement with the Thought Police in a threatening “Room 101” of the Love Ministry after which you’ll slip out of existence: you’ll become “unperson”.

This is the world main character Winston Smith lives in. He works in the Truth Ministry, as an editor of historical events adjusting them to continuously changing state’s truth. Smith is a real master of Newspeak (a language created by the Party to place a control over human thoughts and limit their freedom). Ruling coterie aims at eliminating in citizens’ vocabulary unwanted concepts, synonyms and antonyms, or any ambiguity possible: language should only serve the needs of officialdom. Winston is a member of Outer Party (which means he belongs to the middle class whose lives are supposed to be better than most of the population’s: “proles”). However, he doesn’t share a single party’s opinion and doubts about the reality surrounding him. One day he dares to write these doubts and thoughts down in the journal not to come off. Soon after that Winston got a note from a co-worker Julia, who appeared to support his views and secret hate towards the Party. They became lovers and arranged dates in the countryside where no microphones and tracing screens are. Sharing party disloyalty made them interested in Brotherhood which according to rumors confronts regime. Winston contacts O’Brien, a member of the Inner Party who as the main character thinks supports opposition and gets from him Brotherhood’s manifesto: “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” written by Emmanuel Goldstein. Yet, the Thought Police arrests Julia and Winston: O’Brian occurs to be Inner Party secret agent dealing with revealing cases similar to Smith’s. He tortures Winston and finally breaks his spirit by making him abandon his love to Julia. After being incorporated again into society Smith realizes that he had been completely cured of revolutionary mindset and now his love to the Party, to Big Brother is enormous and unconditional.

Every writer is a prophet for a little bit and an anti-utopian one is twice a prophet. “1984” is a heavy satire on the totalitarian regime and a strong warning against authoritarianism. Life is horrible when slavish believes substitute personal opinion, which is forbidden; when society undergoes degradation without noticing it. Emotional intensity and psychological tension of narrative makes Orwell’s world extremely realistic. Will we live up to the time when we won’t be able to tell the difference between what we’re reading: a fiction novel or a news announcement?

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