1984 is the most iconic novel of the British writer and journalist Eric Arthur Blair, known worldwide under his pseudonym, George Orwell. Published on June 9, 1949, it is not the first work considered dystopian, more if it was the title that made this term fashionable throughout the world.
This book was a huge commercial success from its first installation on bookstore shelves. Since then, it has returned with some regularity to the top of the sales charts. The last major rebound took place in 2016, when Donald Trump was elected - to the surprise of many - as the 45th president of the United States.
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Eric Arthur Blair was born on June 25, 1903, in Motihari, a city located within the vast British colonial territories in India. During his life he was a fierce fighter against totalitarian and imperialist systems. During his youth, he even rebelled against his own government in Burma.
Later he traveled to Spain to join the defense of the Republic against the onslaught of Franco. In fact, he was almost shot in Catalonia for it (he escaped miraculously). All these experiences, along with the opposition to the Nazi and Stalinist regimes are present in many of his works. An obvious feature in 1984, as well as in his other iconic novel: Animal Farm.
Years of journalistic investigation
Orwell, the journalist, went to great lengths to collect all the data included in the text for at least five years. These represented tremendously illuminating details for audiences in the mid-XNUMXth century. Reading this historical review allowed many to understand the accumulation of convulsive events that have occurred in Europe since the Great War.
The title 1984 places the plot in a distant future, for this reason at the time it was considered a "prophetic essay". Although the writer himself clarified more than once that it was not just speculation about the future of humanity. It was mainly a satirical review of things that happened up to the first half of the XNUMXth century.
Animal Farm it was published in 1945; 1984 in 1949… George Orwell died a year later, a victim of long-standing tuberculosis. Like many of the great artists of all time, he could not fully enjoy the success of his work. This is not a minor fact, as he is considered one of the most influential writers of the entire XNUMXth century.
Furthermore, its influence remains in force well into the new millennium. What's more, he owes the adjective "Orwellian", a word currently used to refer to totalitarian regimes. Also, the term refers to systems that deliberately destroy the history and culture of entire societies to suit their interests.
1984, in a nutshell
London, 1984. The English city, along with the rest of the British Isles, are part of Oceania. In reality, they represent one of the three great powers into which the world is divided within. The territories of this mega state include Ireland, southern Africa, the Americas as a whole, New Zealand and Australia.
The other two existing nations are Eurasia - made up of the Soviet Union and the rest of Europe (except Iceland - and East Asia, a compendium between China, Japan and Korea. These groups are always at war (The most important economic item, therefore, must stay afloat at any price). At the same time, war conflicts are a perfect method to control the population.
Winston Smith is the protagonist and rapporteur. Work in one of the competitions designed to keep the regime in power: the Ministry of Truth. His job is to rewrite history to suit the interests of the government. At this point, it doesn't matter if you should write science fiction and undo the actual fact records. For this reason, he is disgusted with the prevailing system.
His desire for change prompts him to join a Brotherhood of Resistance with Julia, the girl with whom he fell in love and shares the same ideals.. But the supposed revolutionary organization turns out to be another method of control. Both characters are captured, tortured and forced to accept as unquestionable all government information, even if it is "two plus two equals five."
1984 presents with chilling precision concepts and gadgets that are very current today. The first term coined was Big Brother, came hand in hand with the idea of omnipresent state and total surveillance. There are Gadgets (screens) placed in order to monitor every movement of people.
Currently, the most radical voices against the Digital Revolution point out that Alexa or Google today fulfill more or less the same population tracking function. In fact, much of the conspiracy theories of the last decades are based on this type of Orwellian thinking.
Prophetic science fiction?
The "thought police" is another of the emblems of 1984. Its ultimate goal is to collaborate, together with the ministerial portfolios (apart from the Ministry of Truth there are also those of Love, Abundance and Peace) with the suppression of the idea of the Self. Therefore, individualism is prohibited, as society must be a homogeneous mass dominated through fear and war.
On the other hand, the manipulation of information is one of the most in-depth aspects by Orwell in his story, as well as in the use of the neo-language. This is a system created to cut out words with the idea of crossing out as non-existent everything that cannot be thought of.
Obviously, the similarities to today's world are abundant. In times where news is mainly shared through social media, it is impossible to be absolutely certain of what the limits are between truth and lies. In addition, the emojis they are getting closer and closer to leaving the population speechless.
Is there a future?
No intention of spoilers, the closure of 1984 is completely pessimistic. The text ends with the description of a universe where domination is irreversible. By extrapolating this concern to "real life", does humanity still have an escape? ... It could already be too late.
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