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PLOT: 5/5

RELEVANCE: 5/5

CHARACTERS: 5/5

ENTERTAINMENT: 5/5

OVERALL: 5/5

After a long time, I finally had something in my hands that wasn’t about figuring out Tharoor’s complex and demanding vocabulary as I made my way to the book’s climax. I had no idea, though, that those 300 pages made more sense than any great thinker or philosopher had ever managed to with his narratives about the world and its incredible power politics. Additionally, it wasn’t “your typical fiction” because fictions tend to be dramatic.

Despite being a classic that has stood the test of time, 1984 has a modern feel. I chose to join the conspiracy myself because I was fascinated by how appealing it has remained for so many generations. As long as I didn’t get to the work’s appendix, finishing 100 pages every day of an ebook didn’t feel like a success. The novel had a lasting impression on me since I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. It appeared to have been written in this day and age and was so true to current events that escaping seemed pointless.

One aspect of Winston Smith’s existence, the contradiction, would keep you glued to the screen for days. While his ability to grasp the idea of true freedom was impressive in and of itself, it was equally remarkable to observe the difficulty his mind was having in trying to distinguish between reality and illusion that was constantly present because of the intense gaze of Big Brother’s eyes and the indiscernible curve under his mustache that was impossible to ignore.

Big Brother’s presence seemed nearly tangible, given the clarity of the features. He left his imprint everywhere, whether physically or mentally (or mentally). Every item, whether living or dead, saw Big Brother everywhere, in the shape of posters, advertisements, televised shows, songs, the party’s scheduled Hate Hours, the transformation of young children into spies wearing blue uniforms, and other things. The list of things Big Brother and his state control philosophy were praised for never ended.

The existence of Big Brother is left unstated, but whether he existed or not, his catchphrase “Big Brother Is Watching You” served as the people’s guide for every step and breath. Winston Smith came to understand his dislike of the state and its oppressive ministers as a result of his attempts to confront his problems and accept the world as it was.

Winston fails to progress toward his goals despite exerting sufficient effort to oppose the regime while using extreme caution to avoid being arrested for a “thoughtcrime.”

 

The novel takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that a human brain can handle without detracting from the plot. You feel annoyed, shocked, betrayed, and grieved all at once due to Winston’s poor decision-making skills following a seemingly daring love story that you support.

In 1984, the narration was so overwhelming that you are left to take in all of the heart-pounding conclusions for which you were unprepared. It is amusing that all of this could come from a three-hundred-page novel.

It’s hard to get over the notion that a mere work of fiction from the 1940s can convince you that human exploitation and power struggles exist in the real world just as they do in the fictional one and that Smith experiences them daily.

The story isn’t just concerned with the state and how it uses unfair tactics to carry out its will, but it’s also worried about how people interact with one another. A story about vast inequality, a story about a complete betrayal by your instincts that puts you in the hands of your enemy, and a story about parents who can’t trust their children served as a fresh fish. Other stories included the inability of colleagues to sit with each other and the inability of a person even to think the thoughts of his liking. It is an aerial perspective of a world where social pressure exists to fit in, and other people are watching people.

The epilogue reveals that Orwell was a child of his time who knew more than any prior generation of intellectuals close to reaching complete human evolution. Another possibility is that he merely wished to be truthful with the young population about to read his excellent work, which painted a vivid image of human nature and the desire for power that lay beneath the smokescreen of 1984. To fully comprehend what Smith meant when he declared, “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two is four,” it is imperative that we take a close look at the current, constantly changing global scene. Everything else happens if that is permitted.

It begs the question of whether the definitions of the ideals of the constitutions from all over the world that have been presented to us are accurate or if they are only the product of numerous philosophers. The sole purpose of this review is to encourage people who have yet to read 1984 but have it on their want list to do so immediately.

Also Read: Animal Farm By George Orwell Book Review

Ms. Pooja Kalbalia is presently pursuing her PhD in Media Studies from CHRIST University, Bangalore. She is an alumnus of the University of Delhi and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi. She has a rich experience in Media planning, Marketing, and Advertising industry. She is awarded Ad Person of the year by IIMCAA in the year 2021.

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Book Review

Animal Farm by George Orwell Book Review

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animal farm book review

One of the most scathing satires ever written, this fantastic allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals and their struggle to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is still as shockingly relevant now as it was more than fifty years ago. In this write-up, we present you the Animal Farm Book Review.

As we watch the brutal rise and fall of the revolutionary animals, we start to see the germs of tyranny in even the most romantic of institutions and the souls of the most charismatic oppressors in our most charismatic leaders.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm beautifully illustrates the concepts of oppression, rebellion, and history repeating itself. Beginning with an ambitious children’s story, Animal Farm: Old Major, a 12-year-old pig, asks all of Manor Farm’s animals to gather in the large barn after the farm’s owner, Mr. Jones, passes out in a drunken stupor. Major makes a stirring political speech on the injustices their human captors have imposed upon them and the need for them to rebel against Man’s tyranny.

Soon, the revolution breaks out, and Jones and his men are expelled from the farm because they forgot to feed the animals. The Seven Commandments of Animalism are painted on the barn wall, the most significant being “All animals are created equal,” which is later altered to “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Manor Farm is renamed Animal Farm. Orwell shows how easily political orthodoxy can be transformed into pliable propaganda by modifying the Ten Commandments. 

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

There might be better choices than George Orwell’s Animal Farm for young readers! Some heavy items are present. Orwell claimed that the novel depicts events leading up to the 1917 Russian Revolution and continuing into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. He thought that the Soviet Union had evolved into an oppressive dictatorship, one that was based on a cult of personality and maintained by a state of terror. 

“I meant the moral to be that revolutions only affect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and know how to chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job. The story’s turning point was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves.”

The first book in which he strove, fully aware of what he was doing, “to meld political purpose and aesthetic purpose into one whole” was Animal Farm, according to his essay Why I Write (1946), he wrote. He did that with flying colors.

Orwell compares the animal uprising against Farmer Jones to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The allied invasion of Soviet Russia in 1918 is thought to be represented by the Battle of the Cowshed. As Napoleon became the only head of the farm, the pigs’ ascent to dominance mirrored the formation of a Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR. The pigs’ theft of milk and apples for their consumption is compared to the suppression of the left-wing Kronstadt uprising against the Bolsheviks in 1921, and the animals’ challenging construction of the windmill is compared to the different Five Year Plans. 

“The only good human being is a dead one.”

Even though I could be more knowledgeable about the history and wasn’t familiar with all the historical occurrences in Animal Farm, Orwell’s story was still understandable because it could apply not just to the Russian Revolution but to revolutions and changes in leadership more generally. The story of humankind on this planet is told in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Repetition of historical events, money, and profit-driven people. 

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, which ends with the pigs and men engaging in a sort of reconciliation, was inspired by his perception of the Teheran Conference in 1943, which on the surface, appeared to establish “the best possible relations between the USSR and the West” but which Orwell foresaw would continue to deteriorate. When Napoleon and Pilkington, dubious, “played an ace of spades simultaneously,” it signaled a quarrel between the allies and the beginning of the Cold War. Naturally, only one of the two is technically cheating, but Orwell does not specify which one because such a fact is meaningless.

The idea that religion is the “opium of the masses” is another theme in George Orwell’s Animal Farm that also strikes a satirical note (as Karl Marx famously wrote). Many animals are first annoyed by Moses the raven’s discussions of Sugarcandy Mountain since Moses, renowned as a “speaker of tales,” appears to be an unreliable source. The animals reject Moses’ claims of another heaven because they still believe in a better future. The animals start to accept him as their circumstances worsen because “Their lives today, they reasoned, were hungry and arduous; was it not just and just that a better world should exist somewhere else?” 

“Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.”

In this instance, Orwell makes fun of people’s vain hopes for an improved world that prevents its existence. The pigs let Moses stay on the farm because they know that his tales of Sugarcandy Mountain will keep the animals submissive: as long as there is some better world somewhere, even after death, the animals will slog through this one. They even reward him with beer to keep him around. Accordingly, Orwell suggests that religious fervor, often regarded as a virtue, might cause one to have distorted views of life on earth.

In the end, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a book that utterly moved me. A book that will stay with me for the rest of my life, one that I will continue to fear and eagerly pick up again and again.

 

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Book Review

THE PERSONAL IS ALWAYS POLITICAL: A PERSEPOLIS BOOK REVIEW

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Persepolis Book Review

Persepolis tells the tale of Iran’s political and cultural development through a little girl’s perspective. One may experience every emotion in the novel, full of happy and sad moments. Simple yet powerful graphics are used to tell the tale. The book Persepolis is courageous, funny, and sincere. It provides a unique look at life in a theocracy.

In the book’s opening pages, Marjane, the author, is getting accustomed to the new Islamic Republic that the revolution produced. The revolution’s backers disavowed their affiliation with it. Some incredibly powerful clergymen took control of their vision of a democratic Iran. The uncertainty experienced by a little child who is instructed by her school to accept the new Islamic administration but witnesses her parents fighting against it is well-revealed in the book. Since the majority of the things she loved were now forbidden, she observes how her life had turned on its head.

All the bilingual schools were suddenly converted to single-sex institutions. The circumstances deteriorated with time. All protests were prohibited once Iran entered the war; dissidents were tortured or executed, and drones were frequently used to assault the country. Every day, Marjane became more adventurous and curious. Her outgoing nature often got her into trouble with the Guardians of the Revolution and the school administration. She was fourteen when her parents decided to move her to Austria.
She was so overwhelmed by her newly acquired independence. She quickly discovered that living alone wasn’t her cup of tea, and she missed her family, culture, and homeland. She chose to go back to Iran because she felt disoriented and guilty. Returning to her native country wasn’t as simple as she had anticipated. Due to the effects of the war, there were very few opportunities for women, and the entire nation’s reputation was damaged. Marjane emphasized the weird and terrible aspects of Iran’s dictatorial government. Marjane succeeded in illuminating complex modern subjects like the veil and feminism, neo-colonialism, social movements, xenophobia, and the perils of fundamentalism.
One quotation very succinctly expresses why theocracies maintain such rigorous control over all facets of their citizen’s lives:

“The regime had recognized one individual leaving her home while pondering, ‘Are my pants long enough? Is my veil in position? Is my makeup visible? Where is my independence of mind, she no longer queries, and “Are they going to whip me? Where is my right to free speech? Is my life manageable? What occurs inside political prisons? Naturally, that is! When we are terrified, we are incapable of thinking critically or reflecting. We become frozen in terror. In addition, all dictators’ repression has always been motivated by fear. It follows that wearing makeup or baring your hair became rebellious behaviors.”

By demonstrating the state’s frantic desire to enact stringent rules to control women based on the patriarchal paradigm of perceiving women as men’s assets, she has consistently worked to question the problematic divide between personal and political. Marjane decides to travel to France towards the novel’s conclusion, and she knows that this trip will take a while. As independence comes at a high cost for others, she said goodbye to her grandmother.

I learned a lot about Iran’s cultural heritage through Persepolis, and it also helped me believe that human interactions are fundamentally universal. To capture the innocence of a child forced to mature due to violence and persecution, Marjane created the text in a style that is almost childlike. This brilliantly written coming-of-age novel offers other characters’ lives equal weight to their own.

The book contained a lot of symbolism as well. Because Marjane perceives the world in black and white, the book comprises black-and-white pictures. Marjane consciously tries to distinguish between good and evil, as well as right and wrong, from the beginning to the end of the story. To explain complex subjects, the author has utilized straightforward language. Since her primary goal is to make the readers realize that various truths exist even when we cannot notice them, she has purposefully employed the cinch style of pictures.

She has also been unafraid to voice her ideas while allowing the readers to draw their own conclusions. Marjane and other Iranian women fight the patriarchy relentlessly throughout the book. This is demonstrated in subtle ways, such as her early defiance toward the authorities at her school, her decision to attend parties while not covering her face, or her socially unacceptable actions, such as leaving her spouse after realizing she wasn’t happy and feeling confined. The author accurately describes her shifting beliefs, rash and careless choices, and brave resistance actions.

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Book Review

A cruel birth of Bangladesh by Archer K Blood: Book Review

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The Liberation War of 1971 is all over the headlines, granted its 50th anniversary is round the corner. Numerous commentaries and documents are being revisited in the events during the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ celebrations across the countries. One such book which played a pivotal role in documenting the Liberation War and the birth of Bangladesh is the diplomat Archer K Blood’s memoir “The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh: Memoirs of An American Diplomat” published in 2002.

About the Author

Archer K Blood was the American Consul General in Dhaka. He also sent the famous and strongly worded ‘Blood Telegram” which mentioned the atrocities committed against the Bangla sect of people in the Eastern Province of Bangladesh. He was a daily reporter during the Bangladesh genocide to the White House. However, he was not able to elicit any response by the officials of the White House but the general public discovered some of his leaked pieces which caused a major stir.

Blood received the Christian A. Herter Awarded in 1971 for “extraordinary accomplishment involving initiative, integrity, intellectual courage and creative dissent” during the timeline of the Bangladesh Liberation War.

About the Book

More than entailing the atrocities inflicted by Pakistan and uprising rebellion by the Banglas, the book focused on the parched and silent lips of the West administration on the issue. Following the March 25, 1971 military crackdown, Blood and his colleagues at the Dhaka Consulate continued to report the details of the genocide of unarmed Bengalis by Pakistani Junta to Washington and urged the US government to take cognizance, only to receive deafening silence.  

The book accounts the inevitable emergence of Bangladesh seen through the eyes of a sympathetic American diplomat. The fateful and horrendous events are intrinsically captured in the memoir by the author. The timeline of the book spans from March 1970, when the author arrived in Dhaka as an American Consul General to June 1971, iterating his withdrawal from the Dhaka Office. The book records insightful predictions on the unfolding crisis and also ponders various judgements of his conscience. The book has by-and-large demeaned the stance of the US as no retaliation made against the atrocities committed by Pakistan. The book further throws light on the future of the Awami League as the main anchor, ambitiously driving the separation from Pakistan. In addition, Arthur Blood also encouraged India’s assistance in the ‘Liberation Movement’ and lauded their training, arming and guidance towards the Bangladeshi Rebel Force.

The author was a diplomat and the reflection of the same can be observed in his writing style. His ability to provide a detailed documentation of the instances in clear and concise language extended to a great deed for the general readers. His writings were also opinionated and was supported by wise judgement and wit, grasping the reader’s attention and involving them in the narrative. The book sheds light on many small, obscure, little-known events of the 1971 war. For instance, the book narrated an incident where an American diplomat in Dhaka had to make a diplomatic call at a gunpoint, held by the Pakistani Junta. The nonchalant tone in which Blood has described his instance of calling on the Chief Martial Law Administration, General Tikka Khan to the American administration, with the sole motive of defaming the image of American diplomats, is absolutely haunting and horrifying.

The excerpts from the book also drew striking observations on the lives of the two leaders, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (former Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively). Arthur pointed out obvious similarities between the lives of the two leaders. Both the eminent personalities have been described as exceedingly courageous and indispensable. For Bhutto losing his control over the Eastern Pakistan and Mujib rejoicing in the euphoria post December 1970 elections, both personalities were vital and necessary for their respective people. Arthur has credited both Bhutto and Mujib for the secure political future that both these two countries now look forward to.

Conclusion 

Scrumming through the pages of the book, a reader can’t overlook the compassion by which Arthur has tried to comprehensively enunciate the sufferings of the local Bangla citizen and the cruel days of 1971. Unlike the silent retirement from the US, Arthur responded to the call of conscience and thus, his documentation offers a very inspirational glimpse of the heroic dissent.

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