|One of our many|
|Also on our shelf:|
Nineteen Eighty-Four, also (but incorrectly) written as 1984, is a dystopian novel by George Orwell. It tells the tale of a nightmarish future totalitarian state through one helpless man's struggle to hold on to his humanity.
It is set in a world where, at least as far as anyone knows, three warring, apparently totalitarian superstates based on the British Empire/United States, Soviet Union, and China or Japan dominate more than 75% of the Earth's surface and fight an ongoing and inconclusive three-way war with constantly shifting alliances and the old colonial lands of Africa and South Asia largely ignored except as meaningless territorial gains. It follows the story of a minor London bureaucrat named Winston Smith as he attempts to make a change, however small, in the opaque and brutal government of "Big Brother", following him from a breakup with his largely apathetic wife and concluding in his betrayal by a Party double agent.
Written in 1948, the book is most obviously a critique of the Stalinist U.S.S.R. (Nineteen Eighty-Four's Ingsoc was imagined as a technologically advanced development of Stalinism), which led to many people years later (in, uh, 1984) to exclaim, "Whew, we managed not to end up like Orwell's book!" Although many readers miss the references, the book also critiques fascism and imperialism. Both were much more present in memory in 1948 than in subsequent decades. Thus the Thought Police is a reference to the Japanese Thought Police (the Thought Section of the Criminal Affairs Bureau) and Oceania is unmistakably Winston Churchill's Union of the English-Speaking Peoples (an Anglo-Saxon pan-nationalism that would have seen the United States take responsibility for the British Empire). Orwell understood the evils of British imperialism because he was raised in India and served in Burma.
Historical presentism and failure to understand the breadth of Orwell's political denunciation has meant poorly informed criticism of the work. However, science fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote a particularly scathing attack on the book for being uncreative and overly focused on communism while failing to criticize other forms of totalitarianism.
It has become popular to use the book as an attack on socialism in general (as opposed to the totalitarian regimes of the communists), while ignoring the fact that Orwell himself was a committed socialist.
Several phrases coined in the book have entered common use, most notably "Big Brother (is watching you)", but also the Two Minutes of Hate, doublethink, Thought Police, Newspeak, and, perhaps unfairly to the memory of Orwell, "Orwellian" as a term used to describe the society depicted in the book. While Big Brother is a watchword for privacy rights on both sides of the political aisle, and Nineteen Eighty-Four is particularly beloved by conservatives because of its supposed applicability to the issue of political correctness, Orwell himself was a strong leftist, democratic socialist in fact, his opinions on the extreme form of totalitarianism known as Stalinism formed by his experiences fighting in the Spanish Civil War as a foreign irregular.
Many people believe the book was particularly influential amongst party insiders involved in the New Labour project of Tony Blair, and finally stood in for an election manifesto in the 2005 general election. Because if we hadn't then the The Terrorists would have won , and we have always  hated The Terrorists.
 In popular culture
Nineteen Eighty-Four is also the title of a song by David Bowie.
Apple Computer launched their Macintosh computer in one of the most famous and enduringly popular television advertisements of all time, titled "1984". The Ridley Scott ad featured a grey Orwellian world in which thousands of uniform drones listen to a Big Brother type on a screen extolling the virtues of dull, character-based, John Hurt, command line computers.
In a flash of color, a young woman in a white top and red shorts lopes into the auditorium and slings a sledge hammer into the screen, shattering it and the hold it has on the drones, now staring with mouths agape where the screen had once been and welcoming in the new era. The ad ran only once during the Super Bowl, but left an enduring impression with audiences everywhere.
The novel was the inspiration for Matt Nix's short film Me and the Big Guy, in which a man in a dystopian future talks to the glaring image of Big Brother on the telescreen in his apartment as if it were an imaginary playmate, until it finally talks back to him. The film lampoons the fact that Big Brother is watching everyone, even those he'd rather not.
The novel itself was adapted to film and TV several times. Two notable adaptations are as a British made-for-TV film in 1955, then as a 1984 film directed by Michael Radford, starring John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, and (in his last screen role) Richard Burton. That version was shot on the actual days mentioned in Orwell's novel (When Winston Smith is writing "April 4, 1984" in his diary, it really was April 4, 1984).
 In political dialogue
“”Um, note to the Seattle School Board and administration: George Orwell's novel 1984 was a cautionary tale, not a how-to book.
|—Andrew J. Coulson|
Conspiracy woos love referencing the novel, seeing similarities to it absolutely everywhere in today's society. As any discussion by conspiracy woos grows longer, the probability of a contributor referencing Nineteen Eighty-Four approaches certainty.
- Full text of original novel In public domain in Canada. Check the copyright status for your own country.
- On-line comic book version
- British TV adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954)
- Me and the Big Guy on YouTube
 See also
- ↑ Richard Deacon. 1983. Kempei Tai. Tokyo: Tuttle. pp. 156-167
- ↑ Asimov, Isaac. "Review of 1984". Published 1980. http://www.geocities.com/ncptrory/1984.htm.
- ↑ Readers may wish to read Orwell's account of his experiences:Homage to Catalonia, which was first published in 1938.
- ↑ The original advertisement, which inexplicably uses the same voice actor that does all those shit American teen comedy trailers.
- ↑ Me and the Big Guy on IMDb
- ↑ http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=nineteen%20eighty%20four&ref_=sr_sm
- ↑ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087803/combined
- ↑ http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/272248_future01.html