The time is 13 o’clock; the date doesn’t matter; the year goes without saying. Winston Smith, a bureaucrat at the Ministry of Truth, toils day and night in the service of Big Brother, the remote, faux-benign ruler of this eerily familiar dystopia. Orwell’s novel is a study of every possible way a nation can be beaten down by its government: spiritually, physically, intellectually, by the media, torture, surveillance, and censorship, to the point where the state can manipulate reality at will. When Smith is tempted by a beautiful resistance fighter into an act of rebellion, 1984 becomes something more: a strange, tragic, deeply sad love story. It is Orwell’s triumph, and the century’s misfortune, that 1984 is as prescient as it is pessimistic.
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