1984 - Before Reading
by Shruti Pandit
| 4 Questions

Some years ago, Americans envisioned a future that would evolve predictably from the past as a type of extension of the familiar. With the sixties, however, our idyllic dreams were shattered and new visions began to form. 1984, written in 1948 and published in 1949, was intended as a warning against totalitarian tendencies rather than as a prophetic work. Now that the year 1984 has passed, many may scoff at the warning, but those who do would be wise to look at the present a bit more closely. Currently, we have subliminal messages, two-way televisions, computer viruses threatening to endanger our much depended-upon information systems (with possible global impact), and countries all over the world committing atrocities against their own people. Recent political campaigns have shown us explicitly the extent to which propaganda has corrupted our own language. Politicians have perfected their own type of “Newspeak.”

Examine our postmodern style in literature and you will find themes of isolation, repression, and loneliness. The characters of postmodern literature lead surface lives that are mere facades put up for the benefit of appearances. Unfortunately, this is the only fantasy to be found in the writing. It is as if imagination has given up, crushed by the weight of the world’s problems. Like the citizens of Oceania, many postmodern writers have become mere recorders of a hopeless world rather than creators of a new one.

Of those of us who do not scoff at the warning, few think that we will actually be overtaken by a totalitarian intruder; rather, it is the creeping, small things that scare us. Like spiders and snakes, they approach unnoticed. 1984 depicts a dystopia, a world that went wrong, a world of manipulation and control which uses its people against themselves like pawns. A look at our corporate business world today provides a startling comparison to 1984 ‘s world of control and power plays. On the international scene, it has always been easier for us to sit back and criticize the Soviet Union than to deal with our own problems. Perhaps the changes coming about in that country and in the other Soviet bloc nations will force us to be introspective. In the meantime, we should remember that the mindless citizens of Oceania are given neither the opportunity nor the encouragement to think or read. With a study of 1984, we have a chance for both.

Source: Penguin Guide To 1984
List five words/ terms from the introduction that you would like to learn more about.
List the freedoms you enjoy both in your home and in your community. List the freedoms you are denied. What is the reason for the denials? Do you accept the reasons?

Are there ways in which government or the private sector intrudes upon the privacy of Mexican citizens? What are some of these ways? (You may use the U. S. as an example instead of Mexico, if you find it easier to talk about their policies).

About the author:
List 5 facts that you learned today about George Orwell.
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