“1984” has been an influential novel ever since it was first published in 1949 by George Orwell. When I first discovered this book, I found a worn copy of it in my high school library’s discard pile where they gave away worn out books they no longer circulate for free. Since then, I’ve read it three times.
“1984” is often placed on school banned books lists. The banning was most notable in Jackson County, Florida in 1981 where the school banned the novel for being “pro-communist” and having explicit sexual content.
Its subject matters about mind control, constant surveillance, censorship and sexual repression often still make it a touchy subject today.
The novel shot back up in popularity in the past few years amidst the controversy regarding the government surveillance— news first reported by The Guardian—and the election of President Trump.
Orwell’s novel even brought forth a description of technology, which can be interpreted today as one’s own cell phone or computer
The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision, which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.Chapter One of “1984” by George Orwell
Winston (the main protagonist) knows that no matter where he is, he is being watched. With the growing presence of cell phones, cameras and GPS, who is to say the same isn’t happening to us?
That brings up the question: What brings “1984” back into the limelight?
What makes “1984” so special is its relevance. The rise of the Soviet Union made this read very relatable at the time it was published. It was a society that closely mirrored the one modeled by Orwell.
North Korea is a near-perfect replica of the Orwellian society.
It is truly terrifying how similar North Korea’s society is to that of Oceania in “1984.” Everything from the propaganda, economic restraints and punishments are reminiscent of the novel.
The novel’s iconic themes of power, surveillance, and control are things you can find in any society. George Orwell looked at the society he lived in at the time, and selected the flaws of that society.
Orwell’s “1984” can teach us all a lesson, regardless of the time or place. Its connections to modern society make the novel something that will never be out of touch.