By Dr. Strangelove
I really enjoyed this book. Orwell is a very talented writer who engages you and makes you grow to love the different characters.
Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia are the three battling superstates. Each has an identical government—one that is at perpetual war in order to gain complete power over its inhabitants. Big Brother manipulates its citizens into convenient modes of thinking. However, instead of only using propaganda techniques, Big Brother also uses Newspeak and telescreens. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, and has its sole purpose in abolishing all unorthodox thought. (Example: the word bad is replaced by the word ‘ungood.’) The telescreens monitor each citizen that is allowed to be educated, at all times, watching for any action, word, or possible thought that could be unorthodox.
When Winston is secretly approached by a coworker, he learns that he is not alone in his belief that Big Brother is ‘ungood.’ Winston and Julia become lovers and eventually confess their feelings of rebelliousness to O’Brien, a fellow coworker who is believed to be a member of a rebel group, the Brotherhood.
"Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else," says O’Brien. " . . . In the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth."
Political tragedies, such as this, are published constantly, but 1984 is one of the few that has remained timeless and will always be regarded as not only historical, but also prophetic. The book reminds us of what has gone wrong, what can go wrong, and what will go wrong when government becomes all-powerful.
Having been hugely impressed by "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "The Road to Wigan Pier", I had high expectations of "Homage to Catalonia", Orwell's account of his experiences fighting for the Anarchist POUM in the Spanish Civil War.
However, in comparison to the two earlier books, I found it somewhat lacking, but for me this was as much to do with the subject matter as the author, whose expresses his views as trenchantly and incisively as ever.
The political situation, about which I knew little before reading this book, was a complex one with numerous factions of Anarchists, Communists, Fascists and government troops involved. Consequently, there is a lot of exposition along the way that affects the narrative flow, a shame after the clear and direct approach of the two earlier books, but understandable. It is as much a piece of reportage as a book so even then there's things the contemporary reader would find obscure I suspect their 1930s counterparts would have known.
Orwell captures the boredom and chaos of war - much time is spent sitting in trenches in uniform that is falling apart armed with rifles that jam awaiting orders that never come. Unfortunately, boredom is a difficult subject to relate without also boring the reader to some extent. There are sudden explosions of activity, and eventually Orwell is invalided out.
It is fascinating to read this book and be able to draw parallels with modern warfare. One chapter is devoted to how the press manipulate people's perceptions of the war and the various groups involved which, in these days of embedded journalists, still feels highly relevant.
I'd still steer those wanting to sample Orwell's nonfiction work in the direction of "The Road to Wigan Pier" first, but this is a decent attempt to present one man's experiences in a war zone and a complex historical situation.
By Jeremy DEagle
Ok... People want more threads about books so here goes!
First of all I'm amazed that there isn't a thread about this book already. I did do a search but couldn't seem to find it.
I read it some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now that I'm more aware of the political themes running through the book I'm keeping my eye out for it more.
I'm trying to think now if I noticed it the first time or if I just read it as a book. I think I probably did notice it but didn't pay it much attention which got me thinking.... Do I read books in a shallow way, by this I mean do I just read the story and not pick up any hidden nuances or meaning?
I think the answer is possbly yes, when I read other peoples reviews etc I see people linking what the author was writing about to a whole range of other stuff. I just read the book and enjoy the story!
I'm five or six chapters in now (at least) and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It amazes me in a way how the size of books has grown over the years. If Animal Farm was written today then I'm sure it would be several times longer as well...
A Clergyman's Daughter was written as one of Orwell's most experimental pieces and was highly critiqued by the author himself- so much so, that Orwell refused to allow the reprinting of the book during his lifetime.
As with Orwell's other books, it takes a grim look at the inequality of society. His particular grudge points are the conditions incurred by the manual labourers and the capitalist structure of private schools.
The book is written in five clear chapters.
The first documenting a day in the life of Dorothy Hare- the Clergyman's Daughter. Focusing on the drudgery of a low-paid, menial life with no hope of independance and the self-harm she inflicts inorder ot reprimand herself for unpure thoughts.
Chapter two, sees Dorothy awaken in London, suffering from amnesia. She falls in with a group who take her hop-picking. After the job ends, she returns to London, but when her money runs out she finds herself living on the streets.
The third chapter is written entirely in dramatic dialogue.
The following chapter sees Dorothy offered a job as a school mistress in a third class school.
The fifth chapter sees her return.
I decided to read A Clergyman's Daughter as I have previously enjoyed some of Orwell's other efforts.
But, I did not find this as easily accessible as Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty Four. It was not until the fourth chapter that I found myself wanting to read further. The first two chapters were tedious and prolonged. I had to continue to force myself through the dramatic chapter (this is perhaps more to do with my own aversion to dramtic dialogue).
And yet, once finished, I looked back on the book as insightful and deeply probing of the subject matter afore mentioned. I work not look to read this again but it has made my curiosity surrounding Orwell's other works greater.
Gordon Comstock, ‘aged twenty-nine and rather moth-eaten already’, is a troubled man. Poverty, work, squalor, sex, or the lack of it, poetry and the struggle to create it, all eat away at him.
Orwell’s third novel published in 1936 is once again partially autobiographical. His time living rough on the streets including a night in the cells and his job in a bookshop provide a modicum of colour for this grey bleak story.
Comstock is a hard man to like he rejects money refusing to take a well-paid job as a copywriter as he feels it will demean him
but he constantly bemoans his lack of money and the comfort it might bring him.
A writer of poetry - one small volume to his name – which languishes in the remainder piles of bookshops, Comstock vainly struggles on with his ‘magnum opus’ in a cold, poorly lit, rented room trying to hold onto his integrity, all the time borrowing money from his long suffering half-sister to survive.
Comstock has a girlfriend but like money he constantly pushes her away then regrets not being able to ‘provide’ for her.
One review of this novel called it ‘grimly comic’. Well it definitely is grim. Think of the people J B Priestley meets ‘up north’ in his ‘English Journey’ but without the grit and determination to survive. But I found no comedy here just the gradual decay of a human soul, fighting a losing battle against the capitalist society that wanted to save him.
Orwell as usual shows us a darker side of humanity he brings the squalor home to us, sitting it beside ‘our middle class aspidistra life’ and asks us to consider our good fortune. The only problem I had with this novel is I didn’t like Gordon Comstock he made me want to shout at him, tell him to stick to a job, to even take the better job, to marry the girl, to enjoy life. In essence to stop feeling so sorry for himself, to stop thinking
because that way leads to despair, to an unnourished mind caught in the downward spiral of desperation.
But don’t take my word for it – read it for free at