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"Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory."

In 1984, Winston has just had his first rendezvous with Julia, but he's not exactly in love. Hell, he's not even in lust. As she's standing naked before him, he's thinking not of any of the usual things, but how her licentiousness has the potential to undermine the Party. Later, after they've finished (Orwell having dispatched their act with the remarkably understated single line "This time there was no difficulty"), Winston further reflects on what his sleeping lover represents.

The young, strong body, now helpless in sleep, awoke in him a pitying, protecting feeling. But the mindless tenderness that he had felt under the hazel tree, while the thrush was singing, had not quite come back. He pulled the overalls aside and studied her smooth white flank. In the old days, he thought, a man looked at a girl's body and saw that it was desirable, and that was the end of the story. But you could not have pure love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred. Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act.

What a hopeless romantic.

June 29, 2009 in Books | Permalink