Thursday, October 2, 2008

1984

Have no idea how old (or is that young) I was when I first read "1984" by George Orwell. I have a very vague recollection of rereading it as an adult. Today, I am struggling through it. It does not help that the pages of the hardcover book are yellowed at the edges like an old paperback. What that has to do with words where the black ink seems to have disappeared. A word like "Minipax" will look like "Minipa..." with only a part of the last letter, X, readable.

If someone had asked me to tell them the tale of 1984 I would have been at a loss to say anything about it, beyond: Big Brother is Watching You; an oppressive government that allowed no freedom for citizens. I did not remember that the story took place in a then future London. Yet as I read much of the story is familiar. I recall reading sentences. I remember worrying as 1984 approached, relieved our freedom was still intact. Early on in our current administration I said: "1984" arrived; Orwell was just a bit off on the date.

"1984" was copyrighted in 1949. Orwell died a year later. Did I know that when it was assigned reading in the mid 1960s? There is a big blank in my mind about school days. We most likely discussed the story in class as we went along. Or did we write book reports? Were we tested on the books? Were we given a list and told to choose which we wanted to read? I can say with certainty that if there were class discussions I did not contribute to them. I daydreamed during much of my class time. Even if I was paying attention, I was one of those students who half raised my hand, hoping the teacher would not call upon me to answer a question. Teachers liked to call on kids who did not raise their hands. Have no idea how I learned to timidly raise mine to give the appearance of being eager to answer a question that I had no idea what the answer should be.

I often say "I was a backwards child", meaning I was slow. I did not learn to ride a two-wheeler until I was in 5th or 6th grade. Stuff like that. Normal things that all children mastered easily, like tying their shoes escaped me. As a teen approaching adulthood I knew next to nothing about sex. Wonder about that young self of mine reading about prostitution or a passage where he wanted to tie her up, "ravish" her and "at the moment of climax, slit her throat." Could I have envisioned such a scene and label it: rape? Doubtful to this old self.

Can not say that I will finish the novel. My mind seems to wander or lose interest in a lot of the books I check out of the library. Thought I would enjoy "1984". What interests me is imagining a man imagining a "telescreen" before even television became a household item.

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