“Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell (1949)
“The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything”.
In the ghastly setting of Airstrip 1, once known as the United Kingdom, we meet Winston. Not fantastically smart or talented, but he is an individual. He has independent thoughts, morals, and values, which cannot be allowed. Nothing is allowed if it does not serve the party, and so from the first page, he is bound to destruction. Orwell's dystopian world of 1984 has since gained a new synonym for tyranny and totalitarianism.
In this world, there exist no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. No love, except the love of Big Brother. No laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. All competing pleasures are to be destroyed all within the principles of Ingsoc - a new radical form of English socialism.
“1984” is the dystopia, to end all dystopias. It is the investigation into a systematic effort of making Earth as close to a literal hell as possible. In the stalemate between three superpowers, that equally powerful and self-sustaining, it paints a grim picture of a world not so different from ours. Perhaps a bit different course of history and the Orwellian nightmare might have been our reality. One can hardly think of a terrifying book.
And not only terrifying - this a society that has made an aesthetic of human suffering. Nothing done in Airstrip 1 can be said not be positively counterproductive. There is no goals, no meaning, no values. There is only power from inflicting pain and humiliation. Within the principles of Ingsoc, The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
It is a tremendous book with one of the most engaging narratives I have ever encountered. Incredibly literary and imaginative; but I cannot even comprehend what it must have been like to channel the creative forces in order to create this monument of a book, which stands as an eternal warning sign of the danger of individuals losing their individuality and their values.