Tuesday, April 24, 2007

George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four (Audio Book)

Title: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Author: George Orwell

Narrator: Frank Muller

First Published: 1948

Running time: 9 hrs, 35 min, 23 sec

Format: Audio Book

Rating: 9/10

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skillfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

Although the concept of this story is both terrifying and depressing, there is an underlying feeling of hope that tyranny and oppression can be overcome by the actions of the individual, even if from the "lowest levels" of society; that they might overcome the fear they feel at going against the establishment and perhaps make things better for the people at large. It's intense and grueling, but absolutely enthralling.

So much thought went into the construction of NewSpeak as a new and complete language - scarily, I found I very easily understood NewSpeak and find several of the words quite wonderful (although the idea of a diminishing vocabulary is one that horrifies me!). I absolutely loved this book, and found the background of EngSoc as a whole fascinating. Knowing the background to the book makes me feel very sad for Orwell, to have had something he believed in so much to become something hateful to him - the disillusionment of the characters strongly reflecting the sense of hopelessness he must have felt himself.

Stunning stuff!


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