Blogger’s Book Club Discussion: 1984


Right now, I am at page 150. So far, I have to say that I am quite impressed by the writer's forecast of the future. For a book that's written in 1949, you can tell that the writer was really influenced by the after-math of the 2nd World War that ended in 1945. The story is set in 1984 in Oceania (previously called "London") where there are 3 major superpower empires who are in continuous war against each other. Does it ring any bell? In the 90s there were 2 to 3 major superpower countries in the world in form of SOVIET union, USA and UK. Whereas the writer have been right in predicting the existence of superpowers, he was wrong when he was referring to military war rather than the actual cold war going on.


Discussion 1:

One of the most brilliant things about the novel is the creation of a whole new language called "NEWSPEAK". More information can be read about the structure of this new-generation much simpler English language in the Appendix found in page 309. I was impressed by its simplicity and it made me wonder whether it would be feasible in our day-to-day or not. Frankly, I'd be the first one who'll endorse it..What do you think?

Examples of Newspeak language: all the antonyms of positive words are replaced with un+word. E.g. "bad" will be come "ungood".."expensive" will become "uncheap". Another example is where all variation in degree of words would be replaced with "er" and "est". E.g. more, most could all be replaced with "gooder", 'goodest'.

Discussion 2:

Ministry of Truth..thought police..doublethink...Big Brother...telescreens...Many ideas & original concepts who have one shared theme...Media Propaganda. It shows you how much the authorities want to dictate your life and constantly monitor its "comrades" and ensure that they behave accordingly. They do this by alienating them, stripping them of all the emotional ties they had with parents, wives, loved ones, and even ensuring that they won't develop future intimacies with any of their fellow co-workers. All the energy and tought of those comrades should be towards one goal---serving Big Brother.

Discussion 3 (mini-spoiler):

Internal struggle within self that Winston is going through. Being already a victim of the system, he starts questioning the whole system and whether life has always been like this; full of lies, no privacy, governing by fear, being always dictated what to read, what to eat, and what to know..not allowing them to ever think of something that might be against the slogan of "War is Peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is Strength".

Winston is trying to find answers. He is slowly rebelling against the system. He started writing in his secret diary the only things he owns..his thoughts. Things get interesting in Winston's life when he meets the "dark-haired" girl who shares his enthusiasm in their hatred for the Party. Without ruining it for anyone who didn't reach as far as I do, I can't wait to see what the future hides for those two and how long can they survive in their hideout and fight.

I was a little bit touched by the dilemma that Winston is going through. It partly resembles my experience especially in the sense of being lost, going through the routine life and the nostalgic memories of the past that keeps haunting us.

Discussion 4:

O'Brien? A big question mark...I am totally clueless on his role and how it'll develop.


Of course, there is room for alot of discussions. Let me hear your thoughts.. J

22 comments:

7aki Fadi said...

Wow Hamza what a good post. I think you should be the one to permanently post book discussions since you do a thorough job.

I'll come later to answer your points.

asoom said...

I've read through p.217 so I'l reserve my thoughts on 3 and 4, but let me just say it gets reall good.

Discussion 1
Sorry dude Newspeak sux-it's "uncool". I mean "bad" is just not the same thing as "ungood", it's very limiting when it comes to expressing your thoughts and ideas but I guess that's the whole point.

Discussion 2
I feel like the society created in Oceania or "airstrip 1" totally contradicts itself. I don't really see what incentive the members of the "outer party", like Winston and the dark haired girl girl, have to be members of the Party. I can understand the existence of the Inner Party who do have special material priveleges and powers compared with everyone else-but I don't understand the likes of Mr.Parson for example who seem to represent the majority of the outer party. What's in it for them?

Qwaider قويدر said...

Pretty good discussion. My recollection of 1984 is pretty rusty, although, I hate newspeak it's really very awkward and symbolizes the culture of oppression. "Speak as I like you to speak, it's simple, but it's very limiting"

I think you're posting too many ideas to discuss here, so I'll limit myself to one point. Although this is awesome discussion.

mab3oos said...

ولكم يا مُحترمين، why don't you announce ahead of time that you are going to read this book. I have it but been busy reading the most boring book of all times: Brave New World. But, I would really like to read 1984.

Abed. Hamdan said...

I totally disagree with almost everything presented in the discussions so far.

I think it has nothing to do with the dominance of any major super power in the 90s. He imagined what is it like to live in a Collectivist Utopia. That, if any party (be it communist, fascist, or even ultra-Orthodox party) took over the country, and become a super power, then this what will happen, or something similar.


I disagree with the author in the following point so far:

* Since he is referring to communism, then one mistake worth mentioning is the "newspeak". It's irrelevant because Communism does quite a job in educating the masses. Taking East Europe and the Soviet Union in particular as an example and a proof of concept that as long as Communism concerned, then education has always been a traditional way in provoking revolutions (by educating the proletarians and enlighten them to rebel against their superiors).

It's the author's personal opinion to imagine a newspeak, a language reduced to simple words to demolish any intellectual attempt to understand. This is not what usually happens when communism takeover. Yes there will be oppression but not from a literature perspective.


Discussion 2:

This is the historical error of Communism and collectivism in general. Once the brotherhood comes to power, it will do whatever it takes to stay in power. One example will sum it all: Arab countries from gulf to ocean - period.


Discussion 3:

It's usually the beginning of the end of any dictatorship. Even in the darkest circumstance, there will always people with clear conscience who will eventually rebel, even if they rely merely on their instinct. Example: Europe's Renaissance against the oppression of the church in the middle ages. Collapse of the Soviet Union, Collapse of many Arab dictatorships, the future predicted collapse of major dominant super powers nowadays, that usually starts with economical crises if you know who Im referring to.

Discussion 4:

I think it's part of the plot to make it more interesting and vague.

Abed. Hamdan said...

Asoom:

They have no choice to be something else. It's either Inner party - corrupted intellectuals who works for the party. Proletarians, who are as free as animals as stated by the slogan of the Party (I can't see how such a slogan may exist in a Communist country!!). And the outer party. There's nothing in it for them, but there's no other place to be in. The party tookover and divided the society to Inner, outer, and proles. It's not a free country, you will either work with the government (outer party) or "to" the government (Inner) or you will be brainless labor who will do the dirty muscles work (proles).

Although it's not (yet) mentioned in the novel, but I think people doesn't have a choice to be in which side(Inner-Outer-Proles), it seems to be decided by authority.

Adoosh said...

You guys are already discussing it! Waaaaa3 I haven't started even! I only read the appendix about NEWSPEAK then put it down and didn't have time to get back to it :(

Anonymous said...

Although I have not read the book, and I barely know what the hell is newspeak, I feel obligated to say whatever

Lulu said...

I did not know that there is a book club going on here. Since it is too late to read 1984 now, please let me know whats the next book is, so I can participate.

asoom said...

Abed, I guess what I'm trying to say more is why people are satisfied and content as members of the outer party and why everyone isn't like Winston.

Adoosh, we said we started like a week ago!

Lulu, we'd love to have you join us for the next book, for now check this out to keep up to date:
http://7akifadi.com/bloggers-book-club/

asoom said...

Abed, although this book is definitely indirecting communism-I don't think the aim of the author was to specifcally present a communist society or society that perfectly fits any recognized system of law.

Oceania or Airstrip1 is from the mind of George Orwell and is probably an inspiration and an influence of a number of things including current events of the time or a foretelling of them.

Abed. Hamdan said...

Asoom:

This is right. And Winston was amazed by this too, but he wasn't sure if there's anybody else like him (O'Brian for example, and Julia). A new generation was born in ignorance and didn't know anything but the Party so they took it for granted. The older generation have been "vaporized". All those who could rebel are those who rely on their "instinct", because according to him, there's no historical reference or other system that they compare their current situation with.

I think he showed the relationship between an individual and a communist or dictator system. He presented what it would be like if a Communist revolution took over, and he showed the aftermath of the revolution. The real rebels will be assassinated and the new system will do whatever it takes to stay in power, and new wars must break in so the revolution will continue. An enemy must be found. It's indeed an imaginary system and country, but with pure communist ideas and explicit mentioning of communism.

KJ said...

I haven't read the book yet but it seems to have been influenced from Brave New World.

I will read the book when I finally can manage some time for it and will get back here.

Abed. Hamdan said...

I changed my mind about many points after reading more in the book, I think I have to finish it. 100 pages to go :(

Hamza said...

7aki Fadi- thanks..Where are your comments?

asoom - I am one of those who prefer to have one common language all around the globe. Whether its chinese, english or french..I don't care as long as it is one language.
as for intentions of Mr. Parson, then I am gonna leave it till I finish the book. I think I have 100 pages to go

qwaider- its awkward but you are missing the point behind it. Simplicity

mab3oos- ya zalameh 7a2ak 3aleina. We won't start the next book till you finish. We need to come up with a creative idea on how to alert all our members of the book club.

KJ - we'll be waiting for you. I know you feel somehow left out, but blame it all on big boss..your wife that just divorced you. :P

Hamza said...

abed - walla man inta you carbonized me (af7amtni). But now I feel the urge to kick ur butt especially after I found that those comments were before reading the book.
Anyway, I am glad you are reading the book and that you are changing your mind.
I admit that I might not have truly reflected the ideas in the book.

Thanks for correcting my information regarding the superpowers. Although the novel refers to some socialism and communism concepts, I agree with asoom that was not the point of the author. He is just showing an example of a dictatorship system and how individuals react to it. Right now, I am enjoying the first person view of Winston when he is reading about the book that was given to him from O'brien and the 3 chapters that are there. I think those couple of pages that were in "the book" were very crucial in arranging the ideas and explaining how all the system functions.

100 pages to go. But I gotta admit that George Orwell was very creative and was ahead of his time by far more miles than I've expected.

Hamza said...

adoosh - I think we are partially blamed for not making a great announcement on when will we start. I wish we have something like the tag function in facebook to tell our blogger friends on the start of the book.

lulu - hop in. We'll start the next book once our members finish reading (including me)

anonymous - although I have no idea who the hell are you and what was your point in leaving your comment, all I can say is "whatever"

Abed. Hamdan said...

Hamza

I think we are in the same pages. Winston is reading Goldstien's book. When I wrote the comments I hadn't read that yet. This makes the story more interesting, it was about the relationship between the dictatorship and an individual, not he's talking about the political groups. Yes I changed my mind ALOT :)

Ms Loala said...

Well i'll be damned.

I'll be taking this book in my Anglo-European class, i guess this review would definitely help.

asoom said...

I have to admit that when it got to Goldstein's chapters it was like painful for me to read-he oculd have summarized all that in like 5 pages and saved me the fricking headache in trying to comprehend, absorb, connect the dots, draw the parallels, then decide if I agree or disagree. I felt like I needed to be making some kind of flow chart which I've been making all day long thanks to organic chemistry.

so Abed do we agree that it's not purely communist ideals he's addressing?

Abed. Hamdan said...

I agree with Asoom.

but it's interesting, first we let us have all kinds of interpretations, then he revealed his view and his perception.


Asoom,

according to what he said, it was a movement that matured out of previous "collectivist" movements. such as socialism, communism, nazism. And the difference, according to Orwell, was that they were aware that their sole purpose was sheer power!!!

It's quite interesting, did Hitler really believed in the doctrines he preached ?? was he stupid enough to actually "believe" in his ideas that a certain race is superior ?? and was that believe the key to his failure ??

Did the Russian Communists really believe that they were achieving equality instead of taking over countries and devastate a whole continent ??


Like always - and I hate to be predicted - Islam's movement was the first to cross my mind.

According to Orwell, the Ingsoc will survive forever because they not only preached their lust after power, but they also were AWARE of their purposeful pursuit of POWER.

Islamists, however, were in fact preaching, doing, practicing, and aware of their principles. The early Islamists movement was a pure clean one, and they were AWARE of their movement, and it seems to me that this was "one" of the reasons why it amazingly survived all those years.

so yes, we're aware of our principles, and we do it correctly.


It's been a pleasure discussing things with you bloggers, and reading with you :)

Amaya said...

You write very well.