In 1949 George Orwell published a novel recounting his dystopian vision of what the world would have become within some thirty-odd years. It’s title: 1984.

I started reading it last night. It seemed like a somewhat topical choice from my books-to-read list, given the global political climate we’re currently in the midst of. Having read the first few chapters, it seems to me that in these troubled times the book can either be seen as uplifting—“at least things aren’t as bad as this”—or as a late-to-the-game prophecy—“this is what we’re heading towards”.

The immersive yet bleak world Orwell envisioned in 1984 is still largely un-relatable, however sparks of warning can still be caught in it’s pages. These two sentences, about 9% of the way into the book are one such warning, and one I haven’t been able to shake since reading.

The thing that now suddenly struck Winston was that his mother’s death, nearly thirty years ago, had been tragic and sorrowful in a way that was no longer possible. Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.