Now in audiobook form, George Orwell’s classic novel can be heard on your iPod as you jog or on a CD as you commute to work. 1984 remains one of the classic dystopian novels and wrestles with issues that are still of critical importance even today. This novel centers around the protagonist Winston Smith, who is a low ranking member of the ruling party in Great Britain, where this novel takes place. The party is led by a seemingly all knowing, God-like figure simply named “Big Brother” who is never actually seen.
Winston works for the Ministry of Truth, an ironic yet politically appropriate name as his job is to rewrite history in order to fit the party’s need. In other words, they turn propaganda into widely accepted “truth.” Winston becomes disenchanted, and is afraid that he is committing “thought crimes” for which he will be caught and punished. He eventually begins an affair, using sex as a political act to challenge the status quo, even if in secret, before being caught and punished.
1984 is as relevant today as it was when written. One of the three greatest dystopian novels centered around political themes (A Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 completing the trinity), Orwell’s focus is on the danger of an overly conservative government that is granted far too much power to fight a war which may or may not even exist, and if it does, probably was produced. This book focuses on the danger of totalitarianism, on how psychological control can lead to physical control, how “truth” can be distorted into propaganda and enslave us all.
Although the prediction of the year 1984 was off, today’s world seems inundated with the very things Orwell was warning against. From being able to watch news channels that tell you want you want to hear, not what’s actually happening, to political strategies constantly using double speak and rewriting history, the world which Wells feared is one that every generation needs to be aware of, for that’s the only way every generation will be able to maintain its freedom.