“Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skillfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience”…
“Nineteen Eighty-Four” is far from a despairing book. As an intellectual puzzle it is almost watertight: every facile answer or objection is cleverly anticipated and blocked off but the grotesque world it portrays is imaginary. There is no reason to read into the blackness of Orwell's literary vision the denial of any real life alternative. The novel, indeed, can be seen as an account of the forces that endanger liberty and of the need to resist them. Most of these forces can be summed up in a single word: lies. The author offers a political choice between the protection of truth, and a slide into expedient falsehood for the benefit of rulers and the exploitation of the ruled, in whom genuine feeling and ultimate hope reside. Thus the novel is above all subversive, a protest against the tricks played by governments. It is a volley against the authoritarian in every personality, a polemic against every orthodoxy, an anarchistic blast against every unquestioning conformist. 'It is intolerable to us,' says the evil O'Brien, 'that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be.' Nineteen Eighty-Four is a great novel and a great tract because of the clarity of its call, and it will endure because its message is a permanent one: erroneous thought is the stuff of freedom.