My copy of 1984 is pretty battered. The front cover has been torn off and the first few pages are threatening to fall out. All the pages are yellowed with age and several of them are sporting tiny tears…yet it’s one of my most treasured possessions. This copy of 1984 originally belonged to my mum, who bought it when she first moved to London about 26 years ago. It was one of the first books she read in English (she’s originally Dutch) and she read it over and over again because she loved it so much. When I was about 14 years old, she gave it to me. I noticed how ugly it looked and I was a bit sceptical. It didn’t have a cover and so it was really hard to tell what the book was going to be about and whether or not I’d enjoy it. I know we all say that we should never judge a book by it’s cover, but I guess you could say I was judging it because it didn’t have a cover. For some reason, though, it was one of my mum’s favourite books. I listened to her tell me about why she loved it so much, how it changed the way she looked at society, and how it was rather scary because the events in 1984 were starting to come true…
So I read it and it was magnificently terrifying! I loved every thing about it: the suspense, the characters (I have so much love for Winston, the poor bugger), and the message that Orwell was trying to convey. It’s one of those books that I keep going back to, and every time I read it I still notice something new, and it still has the ability to change the way I think about the world.
Even if you haven’t read 1984, you’ve probably heard a lot about it. You’re probably already familiar with Big Brother, Newspeak, telescreens, Room 101 and the Thought Police. To be honest though. if you haven’t read 1984 yet, you should stop reading this post right this minute and get your hands on a copy asap! The warning that Orwell emphasises with his novel is something that everyone should be aware of. When my mum gave me the book eight years ago, she was right to point out how the events of the novel were steadily becoming reality, and today, this is more true than it ever was! 1984 will continue to serve as a reminder of what can happen if we allow governments to exact too much power over the population, if we allow surveillance to get out of hand, and if we allow history to be manipulated and re-written.
Hopefully my copy of 1984 will remain intact for a long time to come. Since this particular novel connects my mum’s history to my own I will always treasure it. I look forward to the day when I can hand it to my own 14 year old child and see the light turn on behind their eyes as they realise Orwell’s societal message, and understand the impact this novel has had on their mother and grandmother.