1984 is possibly the definitive dystopian novel, set in a world beyond our imagining. A world where totalitarianism really is total, all power split into three roughly equal groups - Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania. 1984 is set in Oceania, which includes the United Kingdon, where the story is set, known as Airstrip One in 1984.
Winston Smith is a middle-aged, unhealthy character, based loosely on Orwell's own frail body, an underling of the ruling oligarchy, The Party. The Party has taken early 20th century totalitarianism to new depths, with each person subjected to 24 hour surveillance and where people's very thoughts are controlled to ensure purity of the oligarchial system in place. Figurehead of the system is the omnipresent and omnipotent Big Brother.
But Winston believes there is another way.
1984 joins Winston as he sets about another day, where his job is to change history by changing old newspaper records to match with the new truth as decided by the Party. "He who controls the past, controls the future" is a Party slogan to live by and it gives Winston his job, but Winston cannot see it like that. Barely old enough to recall a time when things were different, Winston sets out to expose the Party for the cynically fraudulent organisation it is. He is joined by Julia, a beautiful young woman, much in contrast with Winston physically, but equally sickened by the excesses of her rulers.
You will meet many recognisable characters, themes and words which have become part of our everyday life as you read 1984. Where did Big Brother first appear? Certainly not on Australian TV! Written in Orwell's inimitable journalistic style, 1984 is a tribute to a man who saw the true dangers of Lord Acton's statement: "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
From the telescreen in his flat there comes an announcement about a great victory in the battle with Eurasia, which as Winston correctly anticipates, is the prelude to an announcement of further food rationing. This is followed by the National Song “Oceania, ‘tis of thee” during which one was supposed to stand at attention, but which Winston does not do.