*WARNING: This Review of 1984 Contains Spoilers*
There are two things I want to know more than anything after reading George Orwell’s 1984:
1. what would O’Brien have said to Winston if his answer to “do you believe in God, Winston?” was “yes.”
2. How does Orwell envision who Winston was prior, that led to the enslavement he finds himself in at the start of the book.
What I Liked
The book accurately identifies societal degeneration starts with a lack of truth. Deep down, that is what makes the world built in this book relatable and timeless, much more than the technology or the nature of global conflict. In a lot of ways it reads just as much as a philosophical musing as it does a fictional tale and there are some profound moments, to be sure.
On the side of action, the interrogation and its leadup keep your attention more than the rest of the story. The tension is significant.
What I Didn’t Like
One thing I struggled with was the conflict between the musing and the plot. Much of the story, especially in part 1 and 2, was very drawn out with description. Entire relevant conversations and events are described, rather than experienced.
This book is certainly a tragedy and its lead, Winston, is a tragic character. I can hardly call him a protagonist because he isn’t a good person. In a way, he almost seems to me like the antagonist, with the protagonist being the person he COULD be, if only he had more conviction. That isn’t who he is though at the beginning or the end. And all of that is fine if that is the point. However, it’s hard to tell how much of Winston is meant to be victim versus miserable wretch.
I would be curious to know whether this book represents Orwell’s opinion of the fate/position of all human beings (a boot on the neck), or if it’s just meant as a tragic tale of a particularly immoral man. If it’s the former I profoundly resent and disagree with the hopelessness of it. If the latter, which I think is probably more likely the case, it still feels hopeless but is a pretty good case study on degeneracy, with great world building. On Goodreads I gave it 3 stars, since I was left so torn.