If I had to let all my books go and keep just one, then, George Orwell’s “1984” would be a keeper for sure. In my opinion, it ‘s one of the most exciting books of world’s literature. “1984” was written by Orwell in the middle of the previous century and published in 1948, a year before his death.
The protagonist is called Winston Smith. A government clerk and member of Oceania’s Outer political Party. The world is divided in three, and Oceania is one of those three futuristic countries. The events are taking place in 1984, hence the book’s title – a distant future for the author. The society in Oceania are members of the Inner Party (officials who take care of the administration), members of the Outer Party (clerks, state employees) and Proles (proletarians, plain vanilla manual laborers).
The party excercises its authority by eliminating any kind of freedom. Everyone is monitored, even inside their houses with the help of telescreens. Everyone and everything is controlled by the Big Brother. Everything originates and is owed to Big Brother, who is a personification of the ruling political party. Freedom of expression and even freedom of thought is strictly prohibited.
Thought control is the ultimate target, and the development of a new language provides the means to achieve the eclipse of free thinking. Sime, Winston’s colleague, expresses George Orwell thoughts:
Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by eactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten
Winston tried to oppose these acts. He questioned authority when that was unimaginable. He fell in love when that constituted a criminal offense. He thought when thinking tended to become obsolete. Did he make it? Did anything change in his life and in everyone’s life? This is something that you will find out when your read this masterpiece by George Orwell.
Unfortunately, half a century has passed since “1984” was published, and it seems as a book of prophecies. Justified by terrorism and the need of security, civil liberties and rights are to be abolished. CCTV cameras are on the streets, the communications are under surveilance, and modern people feel less and less free day by day. Of course we don’t live in “Oceania”, at least not yet. Can we change course? We sure can try. Questioning authority and using our mind is a very important step. Struggling for freedom of expression and acting is the next. Finally, we must not let our language shrink and then perish. Our language is a tool that will keep an “Oceania” away from our children and our grandchildren.
“1984” is published in Greek by Kaktos publications.