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Book of the Week: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell


9780140817744

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is more timely that ever.

The novel is set in the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrimes”. The tyranny is epitomized by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their oppressive rule in the name of a supposed greater good.

The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth, which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to rewrite past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.

1984 presents a “negative utopia,” that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.Buy the Book

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