Wednesday, March 03, 2010
The Feel-Good Family Hit of the Summer!
In my sophomore year in high school I had one picture hanging in my locker. It was a black & white, postcard-sized photo of a skinny English guy behind a mic. Not Simon Le Bon or Sting, but an author. With that archness that comes so naturally to high school students, I'd completed the picture by scrawling in the corner "All the best in the new year, Eric. XXOO." Hardly anybody got it.
I still have the same tattered paperback copy of 1984 I had then, and it occurred to me that I hadn't read it since moving to Indy, so I pulled it out yesterday. It's one of a double-handful of books I generally reread every year or so, but letting it lie fallow an extra couple seasons has me looking at it in a different light yet again.
For some reason, this time 'round the egalitarian socialist Orwell's stifling class consciousness and intellectual snobbery is actually amusing enough to lift the overall tone of the book for me. In the scene where Winston walks past the proles huddled around a newspaper and talking animatedly, only to find that they're arguing over lottery numbers, my mind couldn't help but insert "Oh, Christ! Here comes one o' them Party wankers. Make like we're arguin' over nonsense!" The proles come and go as they please, buy what they can afford, and yet are portrayed as unfeeling animals simply because the author himself couldn't go into a pub or locker room without getting pantsed.
I'm tempted to write a bit of fanfic told from the point of one of the proles seen with the newspaper, having his path brush past poor emo Winston's here and there. God knows that various nameless, faceless proles are used more or less as movable scenery in the book; Winston would never notice if one of the ones in the cell was one of the ones from the pub was one of the ones from the street or the tube. Except they'd never cross paths in Mr. Charrington's junk shop; the reason that place was always empty except for Winston is that every prole on the block knew Charrington was a narc.