the few who
survived had long ago been terrified into complete intellectual surrender.
If there was any one still alive who could give you a truthful account of
conditions in the early part of the century, it could only be a prole.
Suddenly the passage from the history book that he had copied into his
diary came back into Winston's mind, and a lunatic impulse took hold of
him. He would go into the pub, he would scrape acquaintance with that old
man and question him. He would say to him: 'Tell me about your life when
you were a boy. What was it like in those days? Were things better than
they are now, or were they worse?'
Hurriedly, lest he should have time to become frightened, he descended
the steps and crossed the narrow street. It was madness of course. As
usual, there was no definite rule against talking to proles and frequenting
their pubs, but it was far too unusual an action to pass unnoticed. If the
patrols appeared he might plead an attack of faintness, but it was not
likely that they would believe him. He pushed open the door, and a hideous
cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in the face. As he entered the din of
voices dropped to about half its v