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British first edition cover
|Cover artist||Michael Kennard|
|Genre||Dystopian, political fiction, social science fiction|
|Published||8 June 1949 (Secker and Warburg, London)|
|LC Class||PR6029.R8 N647 2003|
British first edition cover
|Cover artist||Michael Kennard|
|Genre||Dystopian, political fiction, social science fiction|
|Published||8 June 1949 (Secker and Warburg, London)|
|LC Class||PR6029.R8 N647 2003|
Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by George Orwell published in 1949. 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, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (or Ingsoc in the government's invented language, Newspeak) 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 (or Minitrue), 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.
As literary political fiction and dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four 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 everyday use since its publication in 1949. Moreover, Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor's list, and 6 on the readers' list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
George Orwell "encapsulate[d] the thesis at the heart of his unforgiving novel" in 1944, the implications of dividing the world up into Zones of influence 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. On 4 December 1948, he sent the final manuscript to the publisher Secker and Warburg and Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on 8 June 1949. By 1989, it had been translated into sixty-five languages, more than any other novel in English at the time. The title of the novel, its themes, the Newspeak language, and the author's surname are often invoked against control and intrusion by the state, while the adjective Orwellian describes a totalitarian dystopia characterised by government control and subjugation of the people. Orwell's invented language, Newspeak, satirises hypocrisy and evasion by the state: for example, the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) oversees torture and brainwashing, the Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty) oversees shortage and famine, the Ministry of Peace (Minipax) oversees war and atrocity, and the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) oversees propaganda and historical revisionism.
The Last Man in Europe was one of the original titles for the novel, but in a letter dated 22 October 1948 to his publisher Fredric Warburg, 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.
In the novel 1985 (1978), Anthony Burgess suggests that Orwell, disillusioned by the onset of the Cold War (1945–91), intended to call the book 1948. The introduction to the Penguin Books Modern Classics edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four reports that Orwell originally set the novel in 1980, but he later shifted the date first to 1982, then to 1984. The final title may also be a permutation of 1948, the year of composition. Throughout its publication history, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been either banned or legally challenged as subversive or ideologically corrupting, like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932); We (1924) by Yevgeny Zamyatin; Kallocain (1940) by Karin Boye; and Fahrenheit 451 (1951) by Ray Bradbury. In 2005, Time magazine included Nineteen Eighty-Four in its list of the one hundred best English-language novels since 1923. Literary scholars consider the Russian dystopian novel We, by Zamyatin, to have strongly influenced Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The novel will be in the public domain in the European Union and Russia in 2020, and in the United States in 2044, although it is already in the public domain in Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, and Oman.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is set in Oceania, one of three inter-continental superstates that divided the world among themselves after a global war. Most of the action takes place in London, the "chief city of Airstrip One", the Oceanic province that "had once been called England or Britain". Posters of the Party leader, Big Brother, bearing the caption "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU", dominate the city, while the ubiquitous telescreen (transceiving television set) monitors the private and public lives of the populace. The social class hierarchy of Oceania has three levels:
As the government, the Party controls the population with four ministries:
The protagonist Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party, works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth as an editor, revising historical records to make the past conform to the ever-changing party line and deleting references to unpersons, people who have been "vaporised", i.e. not only killed by the state, but denied existence even in history or memory.
The story of Winston Smith begins on 4 April 1984: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen"; yet he is uncertain of the true date, given the régime's continual rewriting and manipulation of history. His memories and his reading of the proscribed book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, reveal that after the Second World War, the United Kingdom fell to civil war and then was absorbed into Oceania. Simultaneously, the USSR conquered mainland Europe and established the second superstate of Eurasia. The third superstate, Eastasia, comprises the regions of East Asia and Southeast Asia. The three superstates wage perpetual war for the remaining unconquered lands of the world, forming and breaking alliances as is convenient. From his childhood (1949–53), Winston remembers the Atomic Wars fought in Europe, western Russia, and North America. It is unclear to him what occurred first: the Party's victory in the civil war, the US annexation of the British Empire, or the war in which Colchester was bombed. However, his strengthening memories and the story of his family's dissolution suggest that the atomic bombings occurred first (the Smiths took refuge in a tube station), followed by civil war featuring "confused street fighting in London itself", and the societal postwar reorganisation, which the Party retrospectively calls "the Revolution".
The story of Winston Smith presents the world in the year 1984, after a global atomic war, via his perception of life in Airstrip One (the former United Kingdom), a province of Oceania, one of the world's three superstates; his intellectual rebellion against the Party and illicit romance with Julia; and his consequent imprisonment, interrogation, torture, and re-education by the Thinkpol in the Miniluv.
Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party (middle class), lives in the ruins of an England already ravaged by World War II, civil conflict, and the revolution which brought the Party to power. At some point in the past he was separated from his family, placed in an orphanage, and trained as a civil servant by the state. Winston leads an austere existence, confined to a one-room apartment on a subsistence diet of black bread and synthetic meals washed down with Victory-brand gin. He begins retaining a journal criticising the Party and its enigmatic leader, Big Brother, which - if uncovered by the Thought Police - likely warrants certain death. The flat has an alcove, beside the telescreen, where Winston apparently cannot be seen, and thus believes he has some privacy, while writing in his journal: "Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death." The telescreens (in every public area, and the quarters of the Party's members), have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone and so identify anyone who might endanger the Party's régime; children, most of all, are indoctrinated to spy and inform on suspected thought-criminals – especially their parents.
At the Ministry of Truth, Winston is an editor responsible for historical revisionism, concording the past to the Party's ever-changing official version of the past; thus making the government of Oceania seem omniscient. As such, he perpetually rewrites records and alters photographs, rendering the deleted people as "unpersons"; the original documents are incinerated in a "memory hole". Despite enjoying the intellectual challenges of historical revisionism, he becomes increasingly fascinated by the true past and tries to learn more about it.
One day, at the Minitrue, as Winston is assisting a woman who has fallen down, she surreptitiously hands him a folded paper note; later, at his desk, he covertly reads the message: I LOVE YOU. The woman is "Julia", a young dark haired mechanic who repairs the Minitrue novel-writing machines. Before that occasion, Winston had loathed the sight of her, since women tended to be the most fanatical supporters of Ingsoc. He particularly loathed her because of her membership in the fanatical Junior Anti-Sex League. Additionally, Julia was the type of woman he believed he could not attract: young and puritanical. Nonetheless, his hostility towards her vanishes upon reading the message. As it turns out, Julia is a thoughtcriminal too, and hates the Party as much as he does.
Cautiously, Winston and Julia begin a love affair, at first meeting in the country, at a clearing in the woods, then at the belfry of a ruined church, and afterwards in a rented room atop an antiques shop in a proletarian neighbourhood of London. There, they think themselves safe and unobserved, because the rented bedroom has no apparent telescreen, but, unknown to Winston and Julia, the Thought Police were aware of their love affair.
Later, when the Inner Party member O'Brien approaches him, Winston believes he is an agent of the Brotherhood, a secret, counter-revolutionary organisation meant to destroy the Party. The approach opens a secret communication between them; and, on pretext of giving him a copy of the latest edition of the Dictionary of Newspeak, O'Brien gives Winston the Book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, the infamous and publicly reviled leader of the Brotherhood. The Book explains the concept of perpetual war, the true meanings of the slogans WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and how the régime of the Party can be overthrown by means of the political awareness of the Proles.
The Thought Police capture Winston and Julia in their bedroom and deliver them to the Ministry of Love for interrogation. Charrington, the shop keeper who rented the room to them, reveals himself as an officer of the Thought Police. Soon after his arrival at Miniluv, Winston is greeted by O'Brien. It turns out that O'Brien is also a Thought Police agent; he was part of a false flag operation used by the Thought Police to root out suspected thoughtcriminals. After a prolonged regimen of systematic beatings and psychologically draining interrogation, O'Brien, now Smith's interrogator, tortures Winston with electroshock, showing him how, through controlled manipulation of perception (e.g. seeing whatever number of fingers held up that the Party demands one should see, whatever the apparent reality, i.e. 2+2=5), Winston can "cure" himself of his "insanity" – his manifest hatred for the Party. In long, complex conversations, he explains the Inner Party's motivation: complete and absolute power, mocking Winston's assumption that it was somehow altruistic and "for the greater good". Asked if the Brotherhood exists, O'Brien replies that this is something Winston will never know; it will remain an unsolvable quandary in his mind. During a torture session, his imprisonment in the Ministry of Love is explained: "There are three stages in your reintegration ... There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance," i.e. of the Party's assertion of reality.
In the first stage of political re-education, Winston Smith admits to and confesses to crimes he did and did not commit, implicating anyone and everyone, including Julia. In the second stage, O'Brien makes Winston understand that he is rotting away; by this time he is little more than skin and bones. Winston counters: "I have not betrayed Julia." O'Brien agrees Winston had not betrayed Julia because he "had not stopped loving her; his feelings toward her had remained the same." One night, in his cell, Winston awakens, screaming: "Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!" O'Brien rushes into the cell and sends him to Room 101, the most feared room in the Ministry of Love, where resides each prisoner's worst fear, which is forced upon him or her. In Room 101 is Acceptance, the final stage of the political re-education of Winston Smith, whose primal fear of rats is invoked when a wire cage holding hungry rats is fitted onto his face. As the rats are about to reach Winston's face, he shouts: "Do it to Julia!" thus betraying her and relinquishing his love for her.
Some time after being restored to orthodox thought and reintegrated into Oceania society, Winston encounters Julia in a park. Julia reveals that she has endured a similar ordeal to Winston, and each admits betraying the other:
"I betrayed you," she said baldly.
"I betrayed you," he said.
She gave him another quick look of dislike.
"Sometimes," she said, "they threaten you with something – something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, 'Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there's no other way of saving yourself and you're quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself."
"All you care about is yourself," he echoed.
"And after that, you don't feel the same toward the other person any longer."
"No," he said, "you don't feel the same."
Throughout, a song recurs in Winston's mind:
Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me—
An alcoholic Winston sits by himself in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, still troubled by false memories which he is convinced are indeed false. He tries to put them out of his mind when suddenly a news bulletin announces Oceania's "decisive victory" over Eurasian armies in Africa. A raucous celebration begins outside, and Winston imagines himself a part of it. As he looks up in admiration at a portrait of Big Brother, Winston realises that "the final, indispensable, healing change" within his own mind had only been completed at just that moment. He engages in a "blissful dream" in which he offers a full, public confession of his crimes and is executed. He feels that all is well now that he has at last achieved a victory over himself, ending his previous "stubborn, self-willed exile" from the love of Big Brother – a love Winston now happily returns.
In London, the Airstrip One capital city, Oceania's four government ministries are in pyramids (300 metres high), the façades of which display the Party's three slogans. The ministries' names are antonymous doublethink to their true functions: "The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation". (Part II, Chapter IX — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism)
The Ministry of Peace supports Oceania's perpetual war.
The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society. At present, when few human beings even have enough to eat, this problem is obviously not urgent, and it might not have become so, even if no artificial processes of destruction had been at work.
The Ministry of Plenty rations and controls food, goods, and domestic production; every fiscal quarter, the Miniplenty publishes false claims of having raised the standard of living, when it has, in fact, reduced rations, availability, and production. The Minitrue substantiates the Miniplenty claims by revising historical records to report numbers supporting the current, "increased rations".
The Ministry of Truth controls information: news, entertainment, education, and the arts. Winston Smith works in the Minitrue RecDep (Records Department), "rectifying" historical records to concord with Big Brother's current pronouncements, thus everything the Party says is true.
The Ministry of Love identifies, monitors, arrests, and converts real and imagined dissidents. In Winston's experience, the dissident is beaten and tortured, then, when near-broken, is sent to Room 101 to face "the worst thing in the world" — until love for Big Brother and the Party replaces dissension.
The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
— Part II, Chapter IX — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
The perpetual war is fought for control of the "disputed area" lying "between the frontiers of the super-states", it forms "a rough parallelogram with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin and Hong Kong", thus Northern Africa, the Middle East, India and Indonesia are where the super-states capture and utilise slave-labour. Fighting also takes place between Eurasia and Eastasia in Manchuria, Mongolia and Central Asia, and all three powers battle one another over various Atlantic and Pacific islands.
Goldstein's book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, explains that the superstates' ideologies are alike and that the public's ignorance of this fact is imperative so that they might continue believing in the detestability of the opposing ideologies. The only references to the exterior world for the Oceanian citizenry (the Outer Party and the Proles) are Minitrue maps and propaganda ensuring their belief in "the war".
Winston Smith's memory and Emmanuel Goldstein's book communicate some of the history that precipitated the Revolution; Eurasia was established after World War II (1939–45), when US and Imperial soldiers withdrew from continental Europe, thus the USSR conquered Europe against slight opposition. Eurasia does not include the British Empire because the US annexed it, as well as Latin America, thus establishing Oceania and gaining control over a quarter of the planet. The annexation of Britain was part of the Atomic Wars that provoked civil war; per the Party, it was not a revolution but a coup d'état that installed a ruling élite derived from the native intelligentsia. Eastasia, the last superstate established, comprises the Asian lands conquered by China and Japan. Although Eurasia prevented Eastasia from matching it in size, its larger populace compensate for that handicap. Precise chronology is unclear, but most of that global reorganisation occurred between 1945 and the 1960s.
In 1984, there is a perpetual war among Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, the superstates which emerged from the atomic global war. "The book", The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein, explains that each state is so strong it cannot be defeated, even with the combined forces of two superstates—despite changing alliances. To hide such contradictions, history is re-written to explain that the (new) alliance always was so; the populaces accustomed to doublethink accept it. The war is not fought in Oceanian, Eurasian or Eastasian territory but in the arctic wastes and a disputed zone comprising the sea and land from Tangiers (northern Africa) to Darwin (Australia). At the start, Oceania and Eastasia are allies combatting Eurasia in northern Africa and the Malabar Coast.
That alliance ends and Oceania allied with Eurasia fights Eastasia, a change which occurred during the Hate Week dedicated to creating patriotic fervour for the Party's perpetual war. The public are blind to the change; in mid-sentence an orator changes the name of the enemy from "Eurasia" to "Eastasia" without pause. When the public are enraged at noticing that the wrong flags and posters are displayed they tear them down—thus the origin of the idiom "We've always been at war with Eastasia"; later the Party claims to have captured Africa.
"The book" explains that the purpose of the unwinnable, perpetual war is to consume human labour and commodities, hence the economy of a superstate cannot support economic equality (a high standard of life) for every citizen. By using up most of the produced objects like boots and rations the "proles" are kept poor and uneducated so that they will not realize what the government is doing and they will not rebel. Goldstein also details an Oceanian strategy of attacking enemy cities with atomic rockets before invasion, yet dismisses it as unfeasible and contrary to the war's purpose; despite the atomic bombing of cities in the 1950s the superstates stopped such warfare lest it imbalance the powers. The military technology in 1984 differs little from that of World War II, yet strategic bomber aeroplanes were replaced with Rocket Bombs, helicopters were heavily used as weapons of war (while they did not figure in WW2 in any form but prototypes) and surface combat units have been all but replaced by immense and unsinkable Floating Fortresses, island-like contraptions concentrating the firepower of a whole naval task force in a single, semi-mobile platform (in the novel one is said to have been anchored between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, suggesting a preference for sea lane interdiction and denial).
The society of Airstrip One and, according to "The Book", all of the world, lives in poverty; hunger, disease and filth are the norms. Ruined cities and towns are commonplace—the consequence of the civil war, the atomic wars, and purportedly enemy (but quite possibly self-serving Oceanian) rockets. Social decay and wrecked buildings surround Winston; aside from the ministerial pyramids, little of London was rebuilt. Members of the Outer Party consume synthetic foodstuffs and low-quality luxuries such as oily gin and loosely packed cigarettes, distributed under the "Victory" brand (taken from low-quality Indian-made "Victory" cigarettes that were widely smoked in Britain (Although other brands were available. Spike Milligan said in his War Memoirs that his parents always sent him a brand called "Passing Cloud" which had a flat Turkish Shape) and by British soldiers during World War II (through the regular NAAFI Ration) when American cigarettes could not easily be imported across the U-boat-infested North Atlantic). Winston describes something as simple as the repair of a pane of broken glass as requiring committee approval that can take several years. All Outer Party residences include telescreens that serve as both outlets for propaganda and devices through which to monitor the Party members; they can be turned down, but they cannot be turned off.
In contrast to their subordinates, the Inner Party upper class of Oceanian society reside in clean and comfortable flats in their own quarter of the city, with pantries well-stocked with foodstuffs such as wine, coffee, and sugar that are denied to the general populace. Winston is astonished that the lifts in O'Brien's building function, that the telescreens can be switched off, and that O'Brien has an Asian manservant, Martin; indeed, all of the Inner Party are attended to by slaves captured in the disputed zone, and "The Book" suggests that many have their own motorcars or even helicopters. Nonetheless, "The Book" makes clear that even the conditions enjoyed by the Inner Party are only relatively comfortable and would be regarded as austere by the standards of the pre-revolutionary elite.
The proletariat, or "proles," live in poverty and are kept sedated with alcohol, pornography and a national lottery (whose actual winnings are never paid out, a fact obscured by propaganda and lack of communication between various parts of Oceania). At the same time, the proles are freer and less intimidated than the middle class Outer Party; they are subject to certain levels of monitoring but are not expected to be particularly patriotic, lack telescreens in their own homes, and often jeer at the telescreens that they see. "The Book" indicates that this state of things derives from the observation that the middle class, not the lower class, traditionally started revolutions. The model demands tight control of the middle class, with ambitious Outer Party members neutralised via promotion to the Inner Party or "reintegration" by Miniluv, while proles can be allowed intellectual freedom because they lack intellect. Winston nonetheless believed that "the future belonged to the proles".
The standard of living of the populace is low overall. Consumer goods are scarce, and those available through official channels are invariably of low quality; for instance, despite the Party regularly reporting increased boot production, upwards of half of the Oceanian populace goes barefoot. The Party claims that this poverty is a necessary sacrifice for the war effort, and "The Book" confirms this is partially correct, since the purpose of perpetual war is consuming surplus industrial production. Outer Party members and proles occasionally gain access to better-quality items through the black market, dealing in goods pilfered from the residences of the Inner Party.
Nineteen Eighty-Four expands upon the subjects summarised in the essay Notes on Nationalism (1945) about the lack of vocabulary needed to explain the unrecognised phenomena behind certain political forces. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party's artificial, minimalist language 'Newspeak' addresses the matter.
O'Brien concludes: "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
In the book, Inner Party member O'Brien describes the Party's vision of the future:
There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.—Part III, Chapter III, Nineteen Eighty-Four
This contrasts the essay "England Your England" (1941) with the essay "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius" (1941):
The intellectuals who hope to see it Russianised or Germanised will be disappointed. The gentleness, the hypocrisy, the thoughtlessness, the reverence for law and the hatred of uniforms will remain, along with the suet puddings and the misty skies. It needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture. The Stock Exchange will be pulled down, the horse plough will give way to the tractor, the country houses will be turned into children's holiday camps, the Eton and Harrow match will be forgotten, but England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.
These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organize society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands. Private property rights will be abolished, but common ownership will not be established. The new 'managerial' societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great superstates grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These superstates will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.
A major theme of Nineteen Eighty-Four is censorship, especially in the Ministry of Truth, where photographs are doctored and public archives rewritten to rid them of "unpersons" (i.e., persons who have been arrested, whom the Party has decided to erase from history). On the telescreens figures for all types of production are grossly exaggerated (or simply invented) to indicate an ever-growing economy, when the reality is the opposite. One small example of the endless censorship is when Winston is charged with the task of eliminating reference to an unperson in a newspaper article. He proceeds to write an article about Comrade Ogilvy, a fictional party member, who displayed great heroism by leaping into the sea from a helicopter so that the dispatches he was carrying would not fall into enemy hands.
The inhabitants of Oceania, particularly the Outer Party members, have no real privacy. Many of them live in apartments equipped with two-way telescreens, so that they may be watched or listened to at any time. Similar telescreens are found at workstations and in public places, along with hidden microphones. Written correspondence is routinely opened and read by the government before it is delivered. The Thought Police employ undercover agents, who pose as normal citizens and report any person with subversive tendencies. Children are encouraged to report suspicious persons to the government, and some even denounce their parents. Surveillance controls the citizenry and the smallest sign of rebellion, even something so small as a facial expression, can result in immediate arrest and imprisonment. Thus, citizens (and particularly party members) are compelled to obedience.
"The Principles of Newspeak" is an academic essay appended to the novel. It describes the development of Newspeak, the Party's minimalist artificial language meant to ideologically align thought and action with the principles of Ingsoc by making "all other modes of thought impossible". (For linguistic theories about how language may direct thought, see the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.) Note also the possible influence of the German book LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii, published in 1947, which details how the Nazis controlled society by controlling language.
Whether or not the Newspeak appendix implies a hopeful end to Nineteen Eighty-Four remains a critical debate, as it is in Standard English and refers to Newspeak, Ingsoc, the Party, et cetera, in the past tense (i.e., "Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised", p. 422); in this vein, some critics (Atwood, Benstead, Milner, Pynchon) claim that, for the essay's author, Newspeak and the totalitarian government are past. The countervailing view[by whom?] is that since the novel has no frame story, Orwell wrote the essay in the same past tense as the novel, with "our" denoting his and the reader's contemporaneous reality.
Nineteen Eighty-Four uses themes from life in the Soviet Union and wartime life in Great Britain as sources for many of its motifs.
The statement "2 + 2 = 5", used to torment Winston Smith during his interrogation, was a Communist party slogan from the second five-year plan, which encouraged fulfilment of the five-year plan in four years. The slogan was seen in electric lights on Moscow house-fronts, billboards and generally.
The switch of Oceania's allegiance from Eastasia to Eurasia is evocative of the Soviet Union's changing relations with Nazi Germany, who were open adversaries until the signing of the Treaty of Non-Aggression. Thereafter, and continuing until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, no criticism of Germany was allowed in the Soviet press, and all references to prior party lines stopped.
The description of Emmanuel Goldstein, with a goatee beard, evokes the image of Leon Trotsky. The film of Goldstein during the two-minutes hate is described as showing him being transformed into a bleating sheep. This image was used in a propaganda film during the Kino-eye period of Soviet film, which showed Trotsky transforming into a goat. Goldstein's book is redolent of Trotsky's highly critical analysis of the USSR "The Revolution Betrayed", published in 1936.
The omnipresent images of Big Brother, a man described as having a mustache, evokes the cult of personality built up around Joseph Stalin.
The news in Oceania emphasised production figures, just as it did in the Soviet Union, where record-setting in factories (by "Heroes of Socialist Labor") was especially glorified. The best known of these was Alexey Stakhanov, who purportedly set a record for coal mining in 1935.
The tortures of the Ministry of Love evoke the procedures used by the NKVD in their interrogations, including the use of rubber truncheons, being forbidden to put your hands in your pockets, remaining in brightly lit rooms for days, and the victim being shown a mirror after their physical collapse.
The random bombing of Airstrip One is based on the Buzz bombs, which struck England at random in 1944–1945.
The Thought Police is based on the NKVD, which arrested people for random "anti-soviet" remarks. The Thought Crime motif is drawn from Kempeitai, the Japanese wartime secret police, who arrested people for "unpatriotic" thoughts.
The confessions of the "Thought Criminals" Rutherford, Aaronson and Jones are based on the show trials of the 1930s, which included fabricated confessions by prominent Bolsheviks Nikolai Bukharin, Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev to the effect that they were being paid by the Nazi government to undermine the Soviet regime under Leon Trotsky's direction.
The song "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree" ("Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you, and you sold me") was based on an old English song called "Go no more a-rushing" ("Under the spreading chestnut tree, Where I knelt upon my knee, We were as happy as could be, 'Neath the spreading chestnut tree."). The song was published as early as 1891. The song was a popular camp song in the 1920s, sung with corresponding movements (like touching your chest when you sing "chest", and touching your head when you sing "nut"). Glenn Miller recorded the song in 1939.
The "Hates" (two-minutes hate and hate week) were inspired by the constant rallies sponsored by party organs throughout the Stalinist period. These were often short pep-talks given to workers before their shifts began (two minutes hate), but could also last for days, as in the annual celebrations of the anniversary of the October revolution (hate week).
The contractions of words, in which "Ministry of Truth" was shortened to "Minitrue" and "English Socialism" to "Ingsoc" was inspired by the Soviet habit of combining words. Smert Shpionam ("death to spies", a sub-division of the NKVD) was shortened to "Smersh". Dialectical Materialism was similarly shortened to "DiaMat", and The Communist International was referred to as the Comintern.
Winston Smith's job, "revising history" (and the "unperson" motif) are based on the Stalinist habit of airbrushing images of 'fallen' people from group photographs and removing references to them in books and newspapers. In one well-known example, the Soviet encyclopaedia had an article about Lavrentiy Beria. When he fell in 1953, and was subsequently executed, institutes that had the encyclopaedia were sent an article about the Bering Strait, with instructions to paste it over the article about Beria.
Big Brother's "Orders of the Day" were inspired by Stalin's regular wartime orders, called by the same name. A small collection of the more political of these have been published (together with his wartime speeches) in English as "On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union" By Joseph Stalin. Like Big Brother's Orders of the day, Stalin's frequently lauded heroic individuals, like Comrade Ogilvy, the fictitious hero Winston Smith invented to 'rectify' (fabricate) a Big Brother Order of the day.
During World War II (1939–1945) Orwell believed that British democracy as it existed before 1939 would not survive the war, the question being "Would it end via Fascist coup d'état (from above) or via Socialist revolution (from below)
Later he admitted that events proved him wrong: "What really matters is that I fell into the trap of assuming that 'the war and the revolution are inseparable.'" Thematically Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Animal Farm (1945) share the betrayed revolution; the person's subordination to the collective; rigorously enforced class distinctions (Inner Party, Outer Party, Proles); the cult of personality; concentration camps; Thought Police; compulsory regimented daily exercise and youth leagues. Oceania resulted from the US annexation of the British Empire to counter the Asian peril to Australia and New Zealand. It is a naval power whose militarism venerates the sailors of the floating fortresses, from which battle is given to recapturing India, the "Jewel in the Crown" of the British Empire. Much of Oceanic society is based upon the USSR under Joseph Stalin—Big Brother; the televised Two Minutes Hate is ritual demonisation of the enemies of the State, especially Emmanuel Goldstein (viz Leon Trotsky); altered photographs and newspaper articles create unpersons deleted from the national historical record, including even founding members of the regime (Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford) in the 1960s purges (viz the Soviet Purges of the 1930s, in which leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution were similarly treated). A similar thing also happened during the French Revolution in which many of the original leaders of the Revolution were later put to death, for example Danton who was put to death by Robespierre, and then later Robespierre himself met the same fate.
In his 1946 essay "Why I Write", Orwell explains that the serious works he wrote since the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) were "written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism". Nineteen Eighty-Four is a cautionary tale about revolution betrayed by totalitarian defenders previously proposed in Homage to Catalonia (1938) and Animal Farm (1945), while Coming Up for Air (1939) celebrates the personal and political freedoms lost in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Biographer Michael Shelden notes Orwell's Edwardian childhood at Henley-on-Thames as the golden country; being bullied at St Cyprian's School as his empathy with victims; his life in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma and the techniques of violence and censorship in the BBC as capricious authority. Other influences include Darkness at Noon (1940) and The Yogi and the Commissar (1945) by Arthur Koestler; The Iron Heel (1908) by Jack London; 1920: Dips into the Near Future by John A. Hobson; Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley; We (1921) by Yevgeny Zamyatin which he reviewed in 1946; and The Managerial Revolution (1940) by James Burnham predicting perpetual war among three totalitarian superstates. Orwell told Jacintha Buddicom that he would write a novel stylistically like A Modern Utopia (1905) by H. G. Wells.
Extrapolating from World War II, the novel's pastiche parallels the politics and rhetoric at war's end—the changed alliances at the "Cold War's" (1945–91) beginning; the Ministry of Truth derives from the BBC's overseas service, controlled by the Ministry of Information; Room 101 derives from a conference room at BBC Broadcasting House; the Senate House of the University of London, containing the Ministry of Information is the architectural inspiration for the Minitrue; the post-war decrepitude derives from the socio-political life of the UK and the USA, i.e., the impoverished Britain of 1948 losing its Empire despite newspaper-reported imperial triumph; and war ally but peace-time foe, Soviet Russia became Eurasia.
The term "English Socialism" has precedents in his wartime writings; in the essay "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius" (1941), he said that "the war and the revolution are inseparable ... the fact that we are at war has turned Socialism from a textbook word into a realisable policy" – because Britain's superannuated social class system hindered the war effort and only a socialist economy would defeat Adolf Hitler. Given the middle class's grasping this, they too would abide socialist revolution and that only reactionary Britons would oppose it, thus limiting the force revolutionaries would need to take power. An English Socialism would come about which "will never lose touch with the tradition of compromise and the belief in a law that is above the State. It will shoot traitors, but it will give them a solemn trial beforehand and occasionally it will acquit them. It will crush any open revolt promptly and cruelly, but it will interfere very little with the spoken and written word".
In the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, "English Socialism" — contracted to "Ingsoc" in Newspeak — is a totalitarian ideology unlike the English revolution he foresaw. Comparison of the wartime essay "The Lion and the Unicorn" with Nineteen Eighty-Four shows that he perceived a Big Brother régime as a perversion of his cherished socialist ideals and English Socialism. Thus Oceania is a corruption of the British Empire he believed would evolve "into a federation of Socialist states, like a looser and freer version of the Union of Soviet Republics".[verification needed]
When first published, Nineteen Eighty-Four was generally well received by reviewers. V. S. Pritchett, reviewing the novel for the New Statesman stated: "I do not think I have ever read a novel more frightening and depressing; and yet, such are the originality, the suspense, the speed of writing and withering indignation that it is impossible to put the book down". P. H. Newby, reviewing Nineteen Eighty-Four for The Listener magazine, described it as "the most arresting political novel written by an Englishman since Rex Warner's The Aerodrome". Nineteen Eighty-Four was also praised by Bertrand Russell, E. M. Forster and Harold Nicolson. On the other hand, Edward Shanks, reviewing Nineteen Eighty-Four for The Sunday Times, was dismissive; Shanks claimed Nineteen Eighty-Four "breaks all records for gloomy vaticination".
The effect of Nineteen Eighty-Four on the English language is extensive; the concepts of Big Brother, Room 101, the Thought Police, thoughtcrime, unperson, memory hole (oblivion), doublethink (simultaneously holding and believing contradictory beliefs) and Newspeak (ideological language) have become common phrases for denoting totalitarian authority. Doublespeak and groupthink are both deliberate elaborations of doublethink, while the adjective "Orwellian" denotes "characteristic and reminiscent of George Orwell's writings" especially Nineteen Eighty-Four. The practice of ending words with "-speak" (e.g. mediaspeak) is drawn from the novel. Orwell is perpetually associated with the year 1984; in July 1984 an asteroid discovered by Antonín Mrkos was named after Orwell.
In 1977 The British rock band The Jam released the album 'This Is The Modern World'. The album includes the track 'Standards' by Paul Weller. This track concludes with the lyrics... "...and ignorance is strength, we have god on our side, look, you know what happened to Winston."
References to the themes, concepts and plot of Nineteen Eighty-Four have appeared frequently in other works, especially in popular music and video entertainment. An example is the worldwide hit reality television show Big Brother, in which a group of people live together in a large house, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras.
In November 2011, the United States government argued before the US Supreme Court that it wants to continue utilizing GPS tracking of individuals without first seeking a warrant. In response, Justice Stephen Breyer questioned what this means for a democratic society by referencing Nineteen Eighty-Four. Justice Breyer asked, "If you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States. So if you win, you suddenly produce what sounds like 1984... "
In 1984, the book was made into a movie which starred John Hurt as the central character of Winston Smith. In 2006, the movie version of V for Vendetta was released, which has many of the same running themes and principles as 1984 and, coincidentally, also stars John Hurt taking on the role of the leader of a totalitarian party, though the film is based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. An episode of Doctor Who called "The God Complex" depicts an alien ship disguised as a hotel containing Room 101-like spaces, and quotes the nursery rhyme as well.
Orwell wrote the book in 1948 as a satire criticizing Stalinism. The cultural impact of this book (Big brother) can be seen in today's world. The book touches on the invasion of privacy and ubiquitous surveillance. From mid 2013 it was publicized that the NSA has been secretly monitoring and storing global internet traffic, including the bulk data collection of email and phone call data. Sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four increased by up to 7 times within the first week of the 2013 mass surveillance leaks. It is also seen in the book how mass media was a catalyst for the intensification of destructive emotions and violence. Since the 20th century news and other forms of media has been publicizing violence more.
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