The Other Lessons Of 1984

Moira Donovan contends that “Orwell’s most famous work is now so closely associated with our understanding of our own surveillance societies that its role as a work of literature is sometimes overlooked“:

The idea that the human spirit may not always prevail, that there are forces stronger than human personality, was a reverberating wake-up call for someone who, like many millennial teenagers, had been raised to believe in boundless possibility. Neither Winston Smith, nor Julia O’Brien (his lover), nor any of the other characters with which they come into contact are caricatures of political ideologies. They’re individuals, and it’s as individuals that they suffer. For me, bearing witness to such believable distress gave license to my own teenage angst. In a way that was paradoxically liberating, it validated an occasionally gloomy outlook by showing me there was reason to worry about the future: that hardship was real, and that things don’t always work out. Most importantly, it showed me what can be done with that angst, as it’s impossible to read 1984 without getting a sense of Orwell’s own struggles. As he states in the essay ‘Why I Write’: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist or [sic] understand.”

Previous Dish on Orwell here, here, here, and here.