1984 by George Orwell
Winston Smith works for The Party. He works in the Department of Truth. His job is to rewrite past editions of the Times and other publications so the past matches the present. The Party and Big Brother are the ultimate authority and glory for the inhabitants of Oceania. Yet Smith questions in his mind. Outwardly, he is the perfect Party member. Inwardly, he rebels. Then he meets Julia. Now he has a reason to carry through on some of his smaller ideas of resistance to The Party.
I have known the premise of this novel since I was a child. I knew what the phrase “Big Brother is Watching You” meant long before I understood politics. But I had never read this novel before. Ouch! No, this has not yet happened, even though the novel was dated for 20 years ago. But it still could. Instead of telescreens watching us everywhere, web cams and security cameras are all around. We are not yet told how to think. But with the right government, we could get into this mode.
Even after Winston gets captured by the Party for his wrong-thinking, I instinctively know there is hope for him and his ideas. What a well-written novel! Orwell has the reader sympathetic for Smith and cringing at the horrors of The Party. Yet hope is always present, even when Smith is taken to the dreaded Room 101. The end took me by surprise. I’m glad no one had told me how it turns out. This piece of literature is a classic, one that reminds us what can happen if we allow ourselves to ignore how our countries are run. I highly recommend it.