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English Book Club: ‘1984’ by George Orwell

georgeorwellxobeygiantprintset-1984coverbyshepardfairey1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell. The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.

The superstate and its residents are dictated to by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism, shortened to “Ingsoc” in Newspeak, the government’s invented language.

The superstate is under the control of the privileged elite of the Inner Party, a party and government that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrime”, which is enforced by the “Thought Police”.

1984 is a classic novel in content, plot and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, and memory hole, have entered into common use since its publication in 1949.

Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.

George Orwell “encapsulate” the thesis at the heart of his unforgiving novel” in 1944, the implications of dividing the world up into Zones of influence that had been conjured by the Tehran Conference and three years later he wrote most of it on the Scottish island of Jura, from 1947 to 1948, despite being seriously ill with tuberculosis.

The Last Man in Europe was an early title for the novel but in a letter dated 22 October 1948 to his publisher, eight months before publication, Orwell wrote about hesitating between The Last Man in Europe and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Warburg suggested changing the main title to a more commercial one.

Throughout its publication history, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been either banned or legally challenged, as subversive or ideologically corrupting

george-orwellGeorge Orwell was the the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950 in British India) was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and his sister to England. His mother’s diary from 1905 describes a lively round of social activity and artistic interests. Blair’s academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies, but during his time at Eton he worked to produce a College magazine, The Election Times.

The family decided that Blair should join the Imperial Police, and send him to India. Working as an imperial policeman gave him considerable responsibility while most of his contemporaries were still at university in England. But Blair, spent much of his time alone, reading or pursuing non-pukka activities, such as attending the churches of the Karen ethnic group.

Back in England, he settled in the family home. In imitation of Jack London, whose writing he admired Blair started to explore the poorer parts of London and recorded his experiences of the low life for use in The Spike, his first published essay in English, and in the second half of his first book, Down and out in Paris and London (1933).

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December 1936, dining with Henry Miller in Paris on the way. The American writer told Orwell that going to fight in the Civil War out of some sense of obligation or guilt was ‘sheer stupidity,’ and that the Englishman’s ideas ‘about combating Fascism, defending democracy, etc., etc., were all baloney.

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Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed.

Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted for the cinema, radio, television and theatre at least twice each, as well as for other art media, such as ballet and opera.

The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday October 14nth.

Here you can see the movie trailer of the version released in 1984.

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