War Is Peace

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he
well knew, even a back can be revealing. A kilometre away the Ministry of
Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape.
This, he thought with a sort of vague distaste — this was London, chief
city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of
Oceania. He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him
whether London had always been quite like this. Were there always these
vistas of rotting nineteenth-century houses, their sides shored up with
baulks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs
with corrugated iron, their crazy garden walls sagging in all directions?
And the bombed sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the
willow-herb straggled over the heaps of rubble; and the places where the
bombs had cleared a larger patch and there had sprung up sordid colonies
of wooden dwellings like chicken-houses? But it was no use, he could not
remember: nothing remained of his childhood except a series of bright-lit
tableaux occurring against no background and mostly unintelligible.

The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak [Newspeak was the official
language of Oceania. For an account of its structure and etymology see
Appendix.] — was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It
was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring
up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston
stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in
elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:


The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above
ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London
there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So
completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof
of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They
were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus
of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself
with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of
Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which
maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible
for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv,
and Miniplenty.

The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows
in it at all. Winston had never been inside the Ministry of Love, nor
within half a kilometre of it. It was a place impossible to enter except
on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of
barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests. Even
the streets leading up to its outer barriers were roamed by gorilla-faced
guards in black uniforms, armed with jointed truncheons.

Winston turned round abruptly. He had set his features into the
expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing
the telescreen. He crossed the room into the tiny kitchen. By leaving
the Ministry at this time of day he had sacrificed his lunch in the
canteen, and he was aware that there was no food in the kitchen except
a hunk of dark-coloured bread which had got to be saved for tomorrow’s
breakfast. He took down from the shelf a bottle of colourless liquid
with a plain white label marked VICTORY GIN. It gave off a sickly, oily
smell, as of Chinese rice-spirit. Winston poured out nearly a teacupful,
nerved himself for a shock, and gulped it down like a dose of medicine.

Instantly his face turned scarlet and the water ran out of his eyes. The
stuff was like nitric acid, and moreover, in swallowing it one had the
sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club. The
next moment, however, the burning in his belly died down and the world
began to look more cheerful. He took a cigarette from a crumpled packet
marked VICTORY CIGARETTES and incautiously held it upright, whereupon the
tobacco fell out on to the floor. With the next he was more successful.
He went back to the living-room and sat down at a small table that stood
to the left of the telescreen. From the table drawer he took out a
penholder, a bottle of ink, and a thick, quarto-sized blank book with a
red back and a marbled cover.

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