Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1984 Revisited

This week marks the 60th anniversary of one of the twentieth century's most important books - George Orwell's 1984.

In The Independent Andrew Johnson talks to other authors, including Robert Harris, Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett, about it and about other reads that are particularly important to them.

(What are your memories of it? It's one of the books I've revisited several times since I first read it when I was at school in the '70's.)

Paul Owen on The Guardian blog points out that the plot was ... erm borrowed ... from Yevgeny Zamyatin's We, published in English in 1924, and which Orwell himself reviewed.

But maybe it's all right in the end. Johnson concludes :
... it is extremely doubtful Zamyatin's book would have come to fill the unique place Orwell's work now occupies. Nineteen Eighty-Four is an almanac of all the political ideas no "right-thinking" person would ever want their government to countenance, and the word Orwellian has come to signify a badge of shame intended to shut down any movement in that direction – with an imperfect record of success.


katztales said...

I adored this book and went on to read in one big gulp Down and Out in Paris and London, Keep the Aspidistra Flying and (my personal favourite) Burmese Days. 1984 was also awesome but the cruelty in it was a bit too much for me so I haven't reread it. Mind you, twenty years have gone by since I read it and I still remember it clearly. Sign of a great book!

pussreboots said...

My memory of first reading the book is being on a bus between Mexico City and Morelia. Being in a foreigner abroad trying to fit in as an exchange student made me click with the book more so than I might have done at home.

Anonymous said...

I've never read 1984. Can't seem to find it anywhere. I've read Down and Out though, someone needs to translate the French. I've also read Animal Farm, which I didn't understand until much later when an example of "some animals are more equal than others" was presented to me :)

BorneoExpatWriter said...

I've only read this once, too, when I was quite young, and I remember it's my first sex scene or tryst that affected me, and how he betrays her at the end, how they've been spied on the whole time! Very disturbing! It had a haunting effect on me and it's coming true a little more each day.

Think of all those ubiquitous cameras we now have in place all over the city from traffic lights, to shopping malls and gas stations that practically documents our every moment of our life. Plus the US and their flipflopping between Iran and Iraq over who is their friend and enemy!

Damyanti said...

I read this as a teen, and was depressed for months. Then had to read it for my Uni course, and was depressed again.

But I just had to finish the book, both times. It was powerful.

Anonymous said...

I can't even get a copy anywhere :P