I’m now a little late on this, but over break from school I decided that I wanted to catch up on reading some books that seemingly everyone had to read in high school except for me, so naturally I began with 1984 by George Orwell.
*This post may contain spoilers*
I had always heard people talk about it and how good it was and that everyone’s read it, and of course all the references to Big Brother, but had never gotten around to it until now. If I’m being totally honest, the only book throughout all my years of high school that I never actually read front to back in its entirety was Animal Farm, also by Orwell, so I figured it was time to try to redeem myself by finishing something by him.
I loved this book from the beginning. It starts off in Oceania, a dystopian society with the introduction of Winston Smith, a worker in the Ministry of Truth (which actually deals with lies). As Winston takes his break from his work of rewriting history to fit the Party’s narrative, the ubiquitous telescreens reveal the absence of privacy that the people of Oceania face, and provides a major example of the Party’s absolute control. Winston finds solace only in the nook of his home out of view of his telescreens where he is able to write in his journal, an offense against the Party. Not only does Winston go against Big Brother and his establishment with the mere possession of a journal, but he also
When Winston returns to work, he partakes in the Two Minutes Hate, during which he spots a girl who he believes belongs to the Inner Party. He also encounters a man who he believes to be an ally who, like Winston secretively goes against the Party. Later on, Winston uncovers the true identities of these people and, after a long bout of rebellion and a surprising turn of events, Winston finds himself where he inevitably knew he would be. The novel ends with Winston sitting alone in a cafe with his memories muddled, yet as sure as ever in regards to his feelings toward Big Brother and the Party.
This fascinating novel set in what was the future at the time of it’s penning provokes the modern day reader to evaluate his or her own life in terms of not only technological freedom, but also in terms of challenging the status quo, or normalized authority.1984 incites rebellion and encourages one to stay true to their identity regardless of the fact that even that may one day be stripped away.
In terms of pairing this novel with music, there are a couple different songs that immediately come to mind. The first of the two being “2013” by none other than Arctic Monkeys, which is a b-side taken from their latest album AM. Obviously one similarity comes from the titles, but more importantly, “2013” deals with modern day technology and the idea that we’re letting it take over our lives, whether intentionally, or in the case of 1984, unintentionally. The song describes that “on the back of a transmitter / there’s a little shiny fruit / and it’s coming after you,” which holds the same theme of technological advances as being detrimental to oneself, or society as a whole.
Another song that fits in with a different aspect of the novel is the song “Mystery Girl” by Alexandra Savior. Winston’s love interest, Julia, in the novel proves to be mysterious within the first few introductions, and remains so even after their first few rendezvous (I found out that the plural of rendezvous is actually rendezvous. Just like how the plural of vinyl is vinyl ;). While it is obvious that Julia takes on certain public roles to stifle suspicion from the Party, she also does not concern herself with going against it as much as Winston does, and often seems to become bored of his deep interest. Julia is a weirdly enigmatic character in my opinion, and I could go much further into detail as to why, but I will spare you all the misery that would come of it. (If you’re actually interested, send me a message from the Contact page.)
Buy 1984 by George Orwell on Amazon here.
Listen to “2013” by Arctic Monkeys on Spotify here.
Buy “2013” by Arctic Monkeys on iTunes here.
Listen to “Mystery Girl” by Alexandra Savior on Spotify here.
Buy “Mystery Girl” by Alexandra Savior on iTunes here.
Buy “Mystery Girl” by Alexandra Savior on Amazon here.