“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
Unfortunately this turned out to be one of those classics I didn't enjoy as much as most of my fellow readers.
The story is a sobering, complex one - a future world where we are controlled to the letter of the law. Disturbing stuff. I don't believe we will ever live in a world exactly like this, but I can see the nods towards some of that direction. The merit of the book isn't to be rated by the realism, anyway, but by the vision and how well Orwell managed to write it.
The torture scenes at the end were long and unsettling. I'm sure that, like the men responsible said, anyone would have broken. There is a disturbing reality in that by itself. Whether controlled by torture, deception, trickery, or upbringing, the disturbing result is all the same. You end up hating the civilians as much as those in power.
It's not a government who is playing god - rather, it's a government who has shelved the notion of God and replaced him.
The story is a fascinating one, and the characters likeable enough - the issue for me was the pacing. I think Orwell took much too long in certain segments and build up. He took a main character who is dreary and beaten down (of course), but with a small spark of defiance. That small spark is why he's focused on, but will it be burned out?
The depressing story told through a defeated tone seemed to ramble on for a good section of the novel, making it hard to hold my interest for every section. And I do think of myself as a reader who is kind to slower-paced novels - my patience with books is generally high. This one didn't rub me right with it's execution.
That said, the political message, the frightening control, all of these make this a novel worth mentioning, reading, and remembering. I don't find it a work of art in literary style, but it is eerily creative, complex, and certainly deserves it's classic label.
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”