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September 25, 2009

An important anniversary: Orwell’s 1984 60 years on

by quaesitor

orwell 19842009 is a year of some very interesting 60th anniversaries. In the bleak, post-2nd World War years, a number of things happened which profoundly affect the world today, in a strange, rather chillingly interconnected kind of way.

  • Foundation of NATO
  • Adoption of the GENEVA CONVENTIONS at the United Nations
  • Publication of George Orwell’s seminal book 1984

It’s quite a telling little combination. Orwell’s book is of course a tour de force – and the process of completing and then typing it up in a damp and cold crofter’s cottage finished its masterly creator off for good. I greatly enjoyed a précis Robert Harris’ intro to the anniversary edition as included in The Week 6 June edition. He calls the book the “Most Influential Novel Ever Written” – note, he’s not saying it is necessarily the greatest novel, but it is profoundly influential, and as evidence for the claim, simply take the prevalence of the novel’s jargon that has become commonplace. If you’ve never read 1984, or if it is a long time since you did, then read it. And while we’re on the subject of newspeak…

Thanks to the consistently amusing and helpful Futility Closet, here is Hamlet’s famous Soliloquy in Newspeak/Doublethink written by one J A Lindon – which, for those less familiar with the original, I’ve placed side by side.

Hamlet 2b2 1984


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