This book was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO depressing. And you know I don't use a dozen extra letters in a word unless I really mean it.
Last night, when I was reading before bed, I actually asked Eric to let me talk to him about the book. I needed to flesh out my ideas about it, and I desperately needed another human being around so that I could touch reality for a moment before diving back into the book.
Why is this book culturally significant? Well, for starters, it gave us these lovely notions (among others):
1984 is George Orwell's version of what socialism would look like if socialism could be fully realized. Well, friends, imagine North Korea, but even more heinously awful for the humans that it claims to protect. No one is allowed to think for himself because he'll be caught by the "thought police," anyone who is caught thinking of anything forbidden (like *gasp* the government is corrupt) is sent to prison, to a forced labor camp, to a re-education facility, or just plain sentenced to death.
I'm not an advocate of suicide in real life, but in this hopeless, depressing, endless mind trap of a book, by the end of it I just wanted the poor protagonist (Winston) to kill himself and be done with a life that was absolutely not worth living for ANYONE, much less anyone who knew the truth about the "Party" and "Big Brother." There was nothing to hope for. Seriously, nothing. And no joy in life whatsoever.
But, alas, unfortunately for him, he didn't die. He was "re-educated" by indescribable torture, and the last four words of the book turned my stomach over in such a fashion that I can't decide whether I should whole-heartedly recommend that you read this book or whole-heartedly recommend that you never touch it.
Here's what I have to say about it: It is probably worth reading. It makes you think about things -- especially political and ethical things -- you had never considered before, and it makes you extremely aware. There is a reason why people reference the concepts in it so often. Bottom line: If you can stomach it, you should read it.
Next Book: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (you know...a book where I know the protagonist is going to win for a change)