1984, published in 1949, is a dystopian and satirical novel. It revolves around Winston Smith, who lives in a nation called Oceania, in a province called Airstrip One, which represents present-day England. This state is controlled by the Party, headed by a mysterious leader who is addressed as Emmanuel Goldstein, also known as the Big Brother. The Party watches every single move that Smith and other citizens make. The nation’s language and history is forcefully changed for the benefit of the Party. A new language, Newspeak, is being compulsively implemented to ensure works that have anything to do with political rebellion are omitted. In Oceania, even rebellious thoughts are illegal and are said to be the worst of all crimes. The people are suppressed and any form of individuality is not tolerated, including love and sex. Smith works as a low-ranking member of the Party who alters historical records. He hates the Party and thus buys an illegal diary in which he pens down his thoughts. He meets Julia, a coworker, who seems to been romantically inclined towards him. He however doubts that she is a Party spy who will get him imprisoned for his “thoughtcrimes’. Her love turns out to be true and they have a covert affair. Smith’s hatred for the Party grows day by day and he is convinced that a powerful Party official O’Brien is actually trying to overthrow the present government with the help of a secret group named the Brotherhood. As the story goes on, readers learn the twists and turns that life in Oceania has in store for Smith. He faces terror, betrayal, freedom, and a broken spirit.
Ik las dit boek als e-boek en er stonden geen paginanummers in de tekst
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. Big Brother Is Watching You, the caption beneath it ran.
Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely. He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail figure, the meagerness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls which were the uniform of the party. His hair was very fair, his face naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.
Het is 1984 en Winston woont in Londen. Hij woont alleen in een klein appartement. Winston werkt op het Ministerie van Waarheid. Het is zijn taak om nieuwsberichten met terugwerkende kracht aan te passen als er iets is gebeurd. Zo kan het gebeuren dat Oceania (waar Winston woont) opeens in oorlog is met Eustasia en samenwerkt met Eurasia. Als dit verandert wordt al het nieuws aangepast zodat mensen denken dat het altijd zo geweest is.
Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.
The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time as he forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips, they were gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be good for the back muscles)—the frightening thing was that it might all be true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.
Winston vindt zijn leven steeds lastiger. Hij vindt het vervelend dat zijn hele leven door de staat gecontroleerd wordt. Op een dag koopt hij een dagboek en schrijft hij stiekem zijn gedachten op. Op een dag ontmoet hij Julia en wordt verliefd op haar. Stiekem spreken ze samen af. Winston denkt dat er een stiekeme verzetsorganisatie is, die de maatschappij kan veranderen. Is er een verzet? Zal Winston iemand vinden die hem hier kan introduceren? Hoe gaat zijn relatie met Julia? Kunnen ze zich blijven verbergen voor de maatschappij, voor Big Brother?
Wat vind ik van dit boek?
Ik heb dit boek als eboek gekocht in februari 2015. Ik heb dit boek ooit gelezen toen ik een jaar of 17 was denk ik. Ik vond het toen een fascinerend verhaal, zeker omdat het geschreven is in 1948. Ook bij herlezen is dit een beklemmend en fascinerend verhaal. Het geeft een deprimerend beeld van een toekomst en ik hoop dat wij een andere toekomst krijgen dan deze.