To preface this: I’m not sure, having read 1984 now, that there really are any similarities between Big Brother and Sauron… However, I still am going to read LOTR (in full) and at least take a stab at pulling the two together; though it may not happen soon, as I have a boatload of Greek tragedies/dialogues to get through before the middle of July and I have a craving for Charles Dickens in the inbetween.
That being said, I finally finished 1984 the other day, and I wanted to give you my thoughts, since it’s been so long since I’ve done a proper literature post. (It goes without saying but: spoilers. Serious spoilers.)
I wrote this immediately after finishing it while brushing my teeth at some point past finishing it on the 19th of June:
“Ugh, 1984… I can’t even think…
The worst thing is: I hate it now. But tomorrow I’m going to wake up and be hit with the sudden and violent realization that I’m supposed to hate it and that’s the genius thing about it… So I’ll think it’s amazing.
In a sense 1984 as a novel is like the Party… It is terrible but it is in its terribleness that it convinces us of its goodness. 1984 is forcing me to feel this… Slavery… Is… Freedom…
This won’t make any sense if you haven’t read 1984 but when I closed it I wanted to throw it against a wall but it hasn’t even been ten minutes and I’m just overwhelmed by its sheer brilliance……… I hate myself.”
From my journal on the 20th:
“So 1984. Okay. Wow.
Now this is difficult to write about, because I sort of hated this book… but in a contradictory fashion, I think it’s fantastic. When I finished it, I wanted to throw it up against a wall and/or set it on fire (unfortunately it isn’t my copy, so I couldn’t do that). I felt completely crushed. Good had lost and evil had triumphed… everything that had been up was now down; black was now white; evil was now good. The level of despair and anger one feels at 1984′s conclusion is huge. It’s not just that evil won, it’s that evil obliterated good… That those who had been fighting it had been won over. There was no secret victory in the hearts of the characters. The good character, the last real representative of true mankind has been converted into that which he once despised and fought against. Evil is triumphant and no one in the novel cares or is fighting it come “The End.”
So that basically sucks.
But after I wanted to set the book on fire, I got up to brush my teeth and I kind of stood there leaning against the sink and thinking about it and I slowly started to realized that I was supposed to hate 1984. I was supposed to want to burn it and hate all the characters for betraying humanity and that which is good. Orwell as the writer operates the same way as “the Party” in the novel does… He takes away everyone who is good. The Party does not want martyrs and they do not want people to inspire faith (and beyond that – rebellion). Every character in the novel who gave you hope or made you believe that there was change on the horizon either turned out to have been evil the whole time or was corrupted by the time the novel ended. He gave hope and then took it away, ripping your morale to shreds. When Winston finally embraces Big Brother, I died a bit inside. It’s soul crushing.
Post 1984 texts I sent:
‘Oh this novel. It’s brilliant. It’s like psychologically manipulative. THE BOOK IS IN AND OF ITSELF THE CORE OF THAT WHICH IT PRESENTS.’
(The response to this was, “Go to bed, you sound drunk.”)
‘BUT LOOK. So I texted you the second I finished this book and I was furious and crushed that Big Brother had won and Winston had collapsed ad then I put it down and went to brush my teeth and GOSH that’s the whole point! 1984 is a novel trying to show everyone why totalitarian regimes are the worst thing ever so naturally you’re supposed to get out of it and hate the world and realize that Big Brother crushed Winston and this book crushed you and you realize that you cannot let what happened in the book happen IRL because Winston who in the book represents the last real human with a soul and his own thought…. He has been torn down and finally defeated and you’ve lost hope in humanity and… Now you feel like you have to stop that. He let humanity down, but you won’t. I am enraged at this ending, but that’s brilliant… This book is awful but it’s supposed to be awful to make you feel how I feel right now and think what I’m thinking… The book is written specifically to evoke an emotional response just like Big Brother emotionally warps… Oh, this is genius.’
I think what impressed me the most was how well Orwell did in not only showing the totalitarian regime at its utmost height, but by employing the same principles and methods of said regime subtly in his writing, he puts the bad taste of it directly into your mouth… It’s simultaneously terrible and stellar.
So all I can say is that this book should be read. It’s not entertaining or enjoyable, but it’s definitely a classic for very good and well thought out reasons.”
Some things I have to add: this book is kind of dull and there are some parts that are actually painful to read… the characters are flat and just make you irritated. I would argue that that’s the point – that you should hate them and everything about the society. I think the only character I actually liked come the end was the prole woman who kept singing that song and folding laundry – and I even didn’t like her at the beginning. It’s not a fun read. It’s like when you eat something and it doesn’t really taste good, but somehow the aftertaste is delicious. That’s this book. I also definitely feel that Brave New World is a more accurate reflection of where society is headed today – 1984 was probably more relevant in a communism saturated era, but nowadays we kind of all realize how terrible communism is without much help.
I definitely recommend it, but I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it. 4 stars. 🙂
I’m really hoping to start posting more frequently – VBS starts tomorrow, so maybe I’ll have something to write about. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate y’all sticking with me even though I’m so negligent of this poor little blog.