1984, the classic novel by George Orwell, was published in 1949 as a warning to people of the dangers of losing our humanity and becoming a world of automatons. It was written partly in response to WWII and the atrocities that had occurred. Orwell’s writing is densely packed, and it is not a jolly nor light read; however, the story of an individual man who still has a shred of humanity left in the form of vague memories and a desire to leave a record of his terribly oppressive society run by Big Brother, whoever and wherever he is, is touching in that we can relate to the way we also hold on to memories, and have dreams and desires for just a moment of joy in a world of tension. Winston, the main character, does find love in this horrific society where even an innocent word spoken in your sleep could be enough for the Thought Police to arrest you and eventually send you to the dreaded Room 101, a room where the worst thing in the world will happen to you. Winston’s love interest is Julia who shares his loathing of the Inner Party and its string of barking contradictions and irrational ways of thinking and dealing with people and especially its erasure of the past. Winston and Julia are members of the Outer Party and are therefore subject to constant scrutiny via telescreens, which also serve as cameras in even the most private of places. Yes, that includes your private bedroom and bathroom.
Orwell did an amazing job of painting such an unsettling picture of a futuristic society. The details of torture will make you wince.
1984 has seen a recent renewal of popularity this year in sales. What do you think accounts for this new surge of interest?