Nineteen Eighty-Four is not meant to be realistic- it's written as a warning, not a prophecy.

How could they jail so many people? (Cletus the foetus mentions that they didn't jail all those people- they killed them.) People aren't that malleable? (I beg to differ on that point anyways- people will believe and do anything if the right buttons are pushed- see: the Holocaust, White Supremacy, slavery...) Why is everyone so ugly? People only ever sing one song? (Dear god, do you want Orwell to publish the 1984 singalong book or something?) The extreme dystopia of 1984 is an example of hyperbole: exaggeration for effect. True, realism and depth of character are lost in this method, but the power of the work as a whole is magnified. Of course Orwell couldn't write about every facet of life in Oceania- the book comes from the perspective of a single character, and a woefully uninformed one, at that.

"It would take a real tard, someone mental, not to notice that dubbing nonreproductive sex (of all sorts) "sexcrime" would simply make it more alluring..." The theme of repressing instinct runs throughout the novel. What's frightening is not the idea of sexcrime- it's the idea that people don't rebel against it. Complacency with lives which should be intolerable is a danger that Orwell tries to expose. The attitude of, "It's a quieter life, certainly...a simpler one, but not necessarily a a bad one" is the attitude that allows oppression to be slipped over people's heads. Orwell saw this attitude destroy the freedom of the people of Spain, he saw it as the Nazis invaded France, and he saw it in England during both the Spanish Civil War and World War Two. This complacent attitude is in reality a supression of the human spirit, which refuses to be crushed.

To call Orwell a "whiner" shows a misunderstanding of his work. Orwell's work was inspired in part by his experience in the Spanish Civil War, which he joined to fight against the forces of fascism in Spain. Orwell personally saw events approximating those outlined in 1984- he saw ideology sacrificed for the pursuit of power in Spain, he saw people cruelly exploited and dominated in British India, he saw death and brutal opression. He was shot through the throat in the Spanish Civil War. He died slowly of tuberculosis- he was already in ill health by the time he wrote 1984. Yet throughout all this he kept an optimistic spirit. It may not be apparent in 1984, but it's there in his other writings. He commited most of his life to fighting against injustice wherever he saw it. He was an ardent proponent of democratic socialism, even as he saw his ideals corrupted by Communism.

1984 may not be the most well written or realistic book ever, but its enduring relevance and power should not be dismissed offhand. It should be read in the context of Orwell's life and its time, not as a work of science fiction.


I realize that Teleny's writeup (at which this is directed) was somewhat tongue in cheek, but I feel that some of the attitudes expressed within were examples of the very ones Orwell's work was meant to combat. I don't think that a novel that has so much to say about politics and society should be criticized so harshly for attributes that (IMHO) only increase its power.

Jesus that's some self-righteous sheez I just wrote there...