1984 (Orwell)

Yes, I’ve read it before. I’ve taught it at least once. (I’m starting to lose track.) This time, though, I had to read it more as an example of rhetoric (in preparation for an AP Language and Comp. class) than as a story.

As a story, it remains, in my mind, a masterpiece. There are no missed notes, no scenes that could be cut. I know this will annoy at least one occasional reader of this blog, but in this way, it reminds me of Great Expectations. I re-read that again recently and found that it moved from great scene to great scene.

Orwell’s story stands up well. It has become cliched to say that Orwell predicted much of what has actually come to pass (think Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance). That it has become cliche does not mean it’s any less true. Orwell understood power in a way that remains true.

In terms of my new rhetorical lens, the creation of Big Brother is just the center of its rhetoric. In the end, O’Brien says it all quite well – as does Newspeak. Language is power. The book will serve me quite well.


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