Harcourt Brace and Company
Ms. Hen read NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR when she was a sophomore in high school many years ago. When she recalled the novel, she remembered being struck by the story about the vision of the future that the author had, even though when she first read this book, it was after 1984. She didn’t know yet how prophetic the book was, and what a part of our culture it would become.
When Ms. Hen remembered this novel, she thought of the romantic parts. That might have been because she was sixteen and more interested in romance that the future of politics, destruction, and Winston’s job in the Ministry of Truth. What struck her this time reading the novel is that there are no computers. Of course, there weren’t many computers in the actual 1984, and there was barely a vision of what something like the internet would be, but in the novel, there is an image of a television screen watching the citizens’ every move and reporting back to the party when someone did something wrong.
This novel is important because it tells of a future which could become true. It’s general knowledge that the Internet is similar to Big Brother; the Internet knows what you search for and buy, and who you are stalking, and what kinds of pictures you put on social media. Social media is a special type of Big Brother in which everyone who is your friend is your own Big Brother and they know everything that you put on that website.
(Ms. Hen knows that most people don’t care about her life and what she does. But she tries not to reveal everything to everyone.)
Ms. Hen hopes that the world does not become the vision of this novel, but she is afraid that it might. There was a news story last week in which the CDC (The Center for Disease Control) had to change the wording in their documents. Ms. Hen read an article about that, which you can read here:
It talks about how this is “Orwellian” which Ms. Hen agrees with. Vladimir Nabokov said that every writer should try to put a word in the dictionary, such as his “Lolita.” Orwell managed to put the version of his own name, which means, “characteristic of the writing of George Orwell, especially with reference to his dystopian account in his totalitarian state in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.”
When Ms. Hen remembered this novel, she thought of how the Party broke Winston. She was afraid that this is what would happen to the world. The hopeful thing is that now, there are still people to stand up and say, “No, we won’t take that!” or “WTF?” of some such version. She hopes that there will always be people who will fight the those in charge if the world is going badly, which Ms. Hen thinks it is.
Ms. Hen believes that this is a novel everyone should read. It is important because it was one person’s imagined scenario of the future, which we have not succumbed to yet, and hopefully never will. But Ms. Hen is not sure. She does not want to believe these things could happen, but current events are proving her wrong. George Orwell wrote this novel as a response to the horrors or World War II and Stalin’s Soviet Union. He didn’t know about today’s world, and the icy slope the United States and the Western world are now slipping down. Who will be there to catch us? Ms. Hen doesn’t know, and is not sure anyone does.