I can see why this is on the top ten of most science fiction lists. Still, it’s not the best book to read when you are depressed. It is amazingly well-written: George Orwell (born Eric Blair) understood that creating a world comes down to creating sensations in the readers. In effect, effect. This book describes everything, every sensation, through every sense. It traps you in the biggest, baddest dystopia that’s ever been written, with no reprieve. For me it was a little much.
Orwell wrote this as a story, not specifically as science fiction, and had no aversion to info-dump or out-and-out soap boxing. The info-dump I didn’t mind so much as the ten pages of ranting against the system. That got a little long. The ending got a little lecture-y, too. But I very much admire such unflinching technique, especially the use of reoccurring imagery – Winston’s ulcerous ankle and a glass paperweight with a pink coral center – to make his themes of betrayal, loss of identity, and pain resonate.
Oh, and he knew what he was doing. His pointed essay, “On Writing” addressed the sensational power of language, and this book shows he understands that in spades: “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus. What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?