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1984

By George Orwell (7)

A disturbing tale of a dystopian dictatorship, published in 1949, George Orwell’s 1984, remains profoundly relevant. Individualist Winston Smith lives in London’s totalitarian nation of Oceania, a product of a brief atomic war. Big Brother and the Party ruthlessly rule the slave state, controlling its members through constant surveillance and the threat of torture at the hands of the Thought Police. Winston cannot mindlessly submit to being the property of the state, as he remembers the past. His memory makes him dangerous, especially as he works in the Ministry of Truth, altering historical documents to suit the Party. In his first act of rebellion, Winston illegally purchases a diary, recording his hostility toward the Party, even though he knows they will catch him, and punish him for his thought crime. Throughout the novel, his hatred for the Party and justified paranoia grow and threaten to consume him. He feels dismal and hopeless, even when he falls in love with the optimistic Julia. The two lovers eventually join the secret opposition to the Party, a rebel organization known as The Brotherhood. This final act of defiance proves to be their ultimate undoing. George Orwell died a year after publishing his magnum opus. Students of life and liberty all over the world still read his book, and shudder at the all too real political possibilities.

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