Because I’m studying Nineteen Eighty-Four for my Honours thesis, I’ve analysed it so much that I can’t actually remember what I initially thought of the novel. I remember reading the ending a few times, because I worried that I wasn’t fully grasping its significance. And then, I remember everyone frowning at me when I told them that this was the first time I’d ever read Nineteen Eighty-Four.
“You haven’t read 1984 before? Where did you go to school, the North Pole?”
“You’re a writer, and yet you haven’t read 1984?”
It’s a thicker book, and it’s not an ‘I’ll just read a few pages before bed’ type of novel. It’s an ‘I’m feeling intellectual today and would like some stimulating material’ type of novel; you need to allocate a chunk of time in order to do it justice.
This dystopian novel was written by George Orwell on his death bed in 1948, and is set in the futuristic 1984. The protagonist, Winston Smith, inwardly defies the oppressive state, led by Big Brother. Winston buys a diary so that he can secretly express free will and thought, and starts an affair with Julia, a woman who works in his building. The novel is rife with irony and internal conflict, and Winston is presented as a fractured but defiant character.
This novel is faultless. The characters are fleshed out, and the development of the storyline is gradual, but needed. The final third of the novel – I won’t ruin it for anyone else who went to school in the North Pole – is powerful, in a way that the reader feels they haven’t quite grasped the meaning of it, yet they know they have. You feel like you have to re-read the novel a few times before you feel that you understand it. Nevertheless, if you have the time to read it, I highly recommend it.
My Score: 10/10
The Next Novel on my List? Hamlet by William Shakespeare.