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Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four (original 1949; edition 2003)

by George Orwell, Erich Fromm (Afterword), Thomas Pynchon (Foreword), Daniel Lagin (Designer)

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54,1488358 (4.25)1463
Title:Nineteen Eighty-Four
Authors:George Orwell
Other authors:Erich Fromm (Afterword), Thomas Pynchon (Foreword), Daniel Lagin (Designer)
Info:Plume (2003), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

  1. 846
    Animal Farm by George Orwell (JGKC, haraldo)
  2. 771
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (nathanm, chrisharpe, MinaKelly, li33ieg, haraldo, Ludi_Ling, Morteana, Waldstein)
    li33ieg: 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451: 3 essential titles that remind us of the need to keep our individual souls pure.
    Ludi_Ling: Really, the one cannot be mentioned without the other. Actually, apart from the dystopian subject matter, they are very different stories, but serve as a great counterpoint to one another.
    Waldstein: It's essential to read Huxley's and Orwell's books together. Both present the ultimate version of the totalitarian state, but there the similarities end. While Orwell argues in favour of hate and fear, Huxley suggests that pleasure and drugs would be far more effective as controlling forces. Who was the more prescient prophet? That's what every reader should decide for his- or herself.… (more)
  3. 687
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (readafew, hipdeep, Booksloth, rosylibrarian, moietmoi, haraldo, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    readafew: Both books are about keeping the people in control and ignorant.
    hipdeep: 1984 is scary like a horror movie. Fahrenheit 451 is scary like the news. So - do you want to see something really scary?
    BookshelfMonstrosity: A man's romance-inspired defiance of menacing, repressive governments in bleak futures are the themes of these compelling novels. Control of language and monitors that both broadcast to and spy on people are key motifs. Both are dramatic, haunting, and thought-provoking.… (more)
  4. 391
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (wosret, Anonymous user)
  5. 361
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (citygirl, cflorente, wosret, norabelle414, readingwolverine)
  6. 261
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (hippietrail, BGP, soylentgreen23, roby72, timoroso, MEStaton, Anonymous user, Sylak)
    hippietrail: The original dystopian novel from which both Huxley and Orwell drew inspiration.
    timoroso: Zamyatin's "We" was not just a precursor of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" but the work Orwell took as a model for his own book.
    Sylak: A great influence in the writing of his own book.
  7. 3713
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (vegetarianflautist, avid_reader25)
  8. 202
    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (aethercowboy)
    aethercowboy: The world of V for Vendetta is very reminiscent of the world of 1984.
  9. 224
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (readerbabe1984)
  10. 216
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (cflorente, readerbabe1984)
  11. 91
    Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley (pyrocow)
  12. 80
    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (BGP, ivan.frade)
    ivan.frade: Both books talk about revolution and the people, individual rights vs. common wellness. "darkness at noon" is pretty similar to 1984, without the especulation/science-fiction ingredient.
  13. 102
    Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley (thebookpile)
  14. 92
    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (infiniteletters, suzanney, JFDR)
    JFDR: 1984's Big Brother is Little Brother's namesake.
  15. 81
    Kallocain by Karin Boye (andejons, Anonymous user)
    andejons: The totalitarian state works very similar in both books, but the control in Kallocain seems more plausible, which makes it more frightening.
  16. 84
    Panopticon; or, The inspection-house by Jeremy Bentham (bertilak)
  17. 40
    The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland (catherinestead)
    catherinestead: Two very powerful stories of what happens when a very small cog in the machine of a dictatorship decides not to turn anymore.
  18. 41
    This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (MMSequeira)
    MMSequeira: Another interesting attempt at a plausible history of the future. Definitely worth reading.
  19. 30
    The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: If you read only one other dystopian SF story, make it this one.
  20. 30
    Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (BGP)

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Showing 1-5 of 771 (next | show all)
Extremely powerful. The scariest thing is that at first I thought the whole concept was entirely ridiculous, yet slowly, as Winston's own belief starts fading, so did mine.
  bartt95 | Jun 22, 2016 |
Unfortunately this turned out to be one of those classics I didn't enjoy as much as most of my fellow readers.

The story is a sobering, complex one - a future world where we are controlled to the letter of the law. Disturbing stuff. I don't believe we will ever live in a world exactly like this, but I can see the nods towards some of that direction. The merit of the book isn't to be rated by the realism, anyway, but by the vision and how well Orwell managed to write it.

The torture scenes at the end were long and unsettling. I'm sure that, like the men responsible said, anyone would have broken. There is a disturbing reality in that by itself. Whether controlled by torture, deception, trickery, or upbringing, the disturbing result is all the same. You end up hating the civilians as much as those in power.

It's not a government who is playing god - rather, it's a government who has shelved the notion of God and replaced him.

The story is a fascinating one, and the characters likeable enough - the issue for me was the pacing. I think Orwell took much too long in certain segments and build up. He took a main character who is dreary and beaten down (of course), but with a small spark of defiance. That small spark is why he's focused on, but will it be burned out?

The depressing story told through a defeated tone seemed to ramble on for a good section of the novel, making it hard to hold my interest for every section. And I do think of myself as a reader who is kind to slower-paced novels - my patience with books is generally high. This one didn't rub me right with it's execution.

That said, the political message, the frightening control, all of these make this a novel worth mentioning, reading, and remembering. I don't find it a work of art in literary style, but it is eerily creative, complex, and certainly deserves it's classic label. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
I read this when young, and tried to re-read it recently, and just couldn't get into it this time. I think I did better when I had guidance from a teacher. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
the first 2/3 of this book were incredible. i don't know how quickly i went through this book in my previous two readings, but this time i took it extremely slowly, and (until the last third of the book) found it both fascinating and near perfect. the last third was much tougher for me (i can't believe he included about 33 pages of a different book in here; i am not opposed to the book within a book thing, but that was too much, and almost all of it unnecessary in content for the story). i am impressed by what he did here, including his creation of newspeak (and the detail to which he dissects it in the appendix) and think it's a really interesting premise and warning. i'm left with trying to preserve that feeling, though, as i was less impressed with the last part of the book, which i was pretty disappointed with. although the very, very end (like the last paragraph or so) was nicely satisfactory.

"How could you communicate with the future? It was of its nature impossible. Either the future would resemble the present, in which case it would not listen to him, or it would be different from it, and his predicament would be meaningless."

"In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. ... And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable - what then?"

"...it was perfectly possible that O'Brien had really forgotten the photograph. And if so, then already he would have forgotten his denial of remembering it, and forgotten the act of forgetting."

"'We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them.'"

(3.5 stars, brought down from 4.5 due to the last third)

from march 2011:

i enjoyed reading this directly after brave new world for the similarities and the differences. i also found it really interesting (not to shirk the meaning in the books of america being complicit) to read these with everything that is happening now in north africa and the middle east. populous uprising against oppressive regimes. this - and brave new world and the land of green plums - were all timely reads. (3 stars) ( )
  elisa.saphier | Jun 5, 2016 |
Given the political influence of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is sometimes forgotten that it is actually also a good read. It is not quite a thriller, nor is it science fiction, though it has elements of both of these. The oppressive, omnipotent regime of Big Brother ensures that the book is an unceasingly bleak read, but nevertheless one cannot help but to want to know more about Oceania and its ruling Party. It can't possibly be so overwhelming and controlling, can it? There must be a crack somewhere, right? Some sort of flaw in the system that allows for dissent or non-conformism to emerge, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant? Something that allows Winston Smith, our everyman protagonist, and by extension ourselves, to retain our humanity in the face of such malice?

Orwell provides, in essence, a blueprint of the most undefeatable, omniscient dystopian society imaginable. The concepts he describes, such as doublethink, crimestop, Newspeak and thoughtcrime, are so well thought-out that one could spend ages, like the protagonist, Winston Smith, trying to seek ways to overcome them. Towards the end of the book, Winston turns to love, and to the integrity and 'spirit of Man' as his salvation - no amount of physical oppression, he reasons, can subdue a person who retains these qualities. But the most chilling aspect of the book is the sheer futility of fighting the regime. Organised resistance, and consequently political change, is impossible - that is a given. But Orwell also shows us that individual resistance, the resistance of one's own soul, is also impossible when the mental hold that the Party has over you is so complete that they can change your very thoughts. As Orwell convincingly demonstrates, such a regime would not so much corrupt the soul of a man as reboot it - to reformat it in their favour. There is an element of metaphysics and meta-philosophy that presents itself, particularly towards the end of the novel, which suggests that reality exists only in the mind. Our connections with the past are twofold: through written records and through our memories. The Party destroys the former as a matter of routine; Orwell shows us, through the degradation of Winston Smith, that the memories can be twisted, erased and eventually rebooted. For one who has read the novel, there can be no better exampling of this than the question, asked repeatedly in the final part of the book: How many fingers, Winston?" The implications are profound: the human soul, like everything else human, is malleable, despite Winston's earlier reassurances that it was impregnable (pg. 174 seems particularly heartbreaking in retrospect). Orwell exposes the frailties of mankind in even starker terms than Winston is exposed in front of the three-sided mirror: nothing is incorruptible; nothing is sacred; nothing is eternal except the will of the Party. Winston, in his darkest days, believes that "To die hating them, that was freedom." (pg. 294). Orwell shows that the Party can make a person die loving Big Brother. Freedom, consequently, is unobtainable.

It is by emphasising these points that Orwell shows how evil could win a decisive, and complete, victory over good. And once it happened, there would be nothing that could be done; partly because struggle would be futile, but mostly because history would be rewritten - not in a way that the bad would be painted as good, but in a way that the bad would, for all intents and purposes, become the good. As Winston muses on pg. 63, "Why should one feel it [the regime] to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different?" Believing otherwise would be thoughtcrime, and would belong to a few stragglers in society who, like Winston, would inevitably become ensnared by the Thought Police.

When reading this book, I initially thought that its influence has been overstated. Words and phrases coined by Orwell such as Big Brother, thought crime, Ministry of Truth, Room 101, doublethink, Newspeak and Thought Police have become rather commonplace; one rarely reads an article or hears a debate on surveillance and civil liberties without one or more of these terms popping up. The overarching term 'Orwellian' will inevitably be uttered. Yet Orwell describes the Party coming into power as a result of a Marxist-style revolution of the masses - a prospect that is unlikely today. When used today, Orwellian phrases are employed to warn about a gradual encroachment of authoritarianism and erosion of civil liberties. The idea that there could be an omnipotent, truly totalitarian mega-society brought about by revolution seems inconceivable. Yet I realised that it is precisely because of Orwell's novel that such fears and warnings seem fanciful. Nineteen Eighty-Four, through its popularity, became the handbook for conscientious citizenship. By showing us the true terror of a society like that existing in 1984, it stiffened the collective resolve that, through vigilance, sometimes hyper-vigilance, it should not be allowed to occur. As Ben Pimlott points out in his Introduction to the Penguin Modern Classics edition, the novel "can be seen as an account of the forces that endanger liberty and of the need to resist them" before it is too late (pg. xvi).

Though a revolutionary dystopia may be a far-fetched idea in the 21st century, there are still a number of elements of the story which have a contemporary relevance. Of course, Orwell obviously drew some of the story's details from his own generation's confrontation with totalitarianism; the indoctrinated children informing on their parents was a reality in Nazi Germany with the Hitler Youth and, of course, Orwell drew heavily from the Soviet system which, when he was writing, was the ghoulish champion of authoritarianism. But when one witnesses the idolisation of Big Brother, particularly the Ministry of Plenty's announcement on pg. 61, is not one reminded of the personality cult of the 'Dear Leader' in North Korea? When Orwell describes the debasing torture in the Ministry of Love, with the sleep deprivation, physical pain and the incessant light, does not one think of Guantánamo, or Bagram? Indeed, when the principle behind the Floating Fortresses is described on pg. 199, is one not reminded somewhat of the wastefulness of the defence industry and the military-industrial complex? ('Defence', itself, arguably an example of Newspeak). It is said that the Brotherhood resistance movement "cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible." (pg. 183). Could not one also apply that description to the current amorphous, hydra-headed incarnation of al-Qaeda, or of global jihadism as a whole? Orwell was not a prophet or a time-traveller; his novel retains its relevance, even nearly thirty years after the calendar year of 1984 has passed, because he understood the essential fact that man will always try to impose his power over other men. To paraphrase Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, inhumanity is one the chief and defining characteristics of humanity. Whilst the value and influence of the various elements of Orwell's work will rise and fall depending on the political climate, this core message will always stand. In Orwell's futuristic world of 1984, the part which requires no suspension of disbelief is the idea that man could conceivably perfect the art of coercion and domination. It is why the book remains as timeless and salutary as it was when it was written." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 771 (next | show all)
Londres, 1984: Winston Smith decide rebelarse ante un gobierno totalitario que controla cada uno de los movimientos de sus ciudadanos y castiga incluso a aquellos que delinquen con el pensamiento. Consciente de las terribles consecuencias que puede acarrear la disidencia, Winston se une a la ambigua Hermandad por mediación del líder O’'Brien. Paulatinamente, sin embargo, nuestro protagonista va comprendiendo que ni la Hermandad ni O'’Brien son lo que aparentan, y que la rebelión, al cabo, quizá sea un objetivo inalcanzable. Por su magnífico análisis del poder y de las relaciones y dependencias que crea en los individuos, 1984 es una de las novelas más inquietantes y atractivas de este siglo.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
Most novels about an imaginary world (e.g., Gulliver's Travels, Erewhon) have as their central character, or interpreter, a man who somehow strays out of the author's own times and finds himself in a world he never made. But Orwell, like Aldous Huxley in Brave New World, builds his nightmare of tomorrow on foundations that are firmly laid today. He needs no contemporary spokesman to explain and interpret — for the simple reason that any reader in 1949 can uneasily see his own shattered features in Winston Smith, can scent in the world of 1984 a stench that is already familiar.
added by Shortride | editTime (Jun 20, 1949)
"Nineteen Eighty-Four" is not impressive as a novel about particular human beings. Its account of life thirty-five years hence has little fanciful or gadgety interest. But as a prophecy and a warning it is superb. The ultimate degradation of a totalitarian sates is here portrayed with repulsive power.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, Orville Prescott (pay site) (Jun 13, 1949)
It is probable that no other work of this generation has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness...the terrific, long crescendo and the quick decrescendo that George Orwell has made of this struggle for survival and the final extinction of a personality.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review, Mark Schorer (pay site) (Jun 12, 1949)

» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orwell, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dean, MikeRetold bymain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Audiberti, AmélieTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baldini, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chiaruttini, AldoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davids, TinkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fromm, ErichAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmberg, NilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacoby, MelissaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kool, Halbo C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pimlott, BenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pynchon, ThomasForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutton, HumphreyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Talvitie, OivaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vos, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warburton, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important events
Related movies
1984 (1956IMDb)
1984 (2009IMDb)
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First words
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
"Freedom is the freedom to know that two plus two make four."
Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
"In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two plus two might make five, but when one was designing a fun or an airplane they had to make four."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
"George 1984 Orwell" is a cataloging error for 1984 by George Orwell.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Published in 1949, it is set in the eponymous year and focuses on a repressive, totalitarian regime. Orwell elaborates on how a massive oligarchial collectivist society such as the one described in Nineteen Eighty-Four would be able to repress any long-lived dissent. The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literature. Smith grows disillusioned with his meagre existence and so begins a rebellion against the system that leads to his arrest and torture.
Haiku summary
The hero battles
A government dance of words.
"++good, Comrade."


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451524934, Mass Market Paperback)

Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life--the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language--and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:05 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Portrays life in a future time when a totalitarian government watches over all citizens and directs all activities.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (4.25)
0.5 12
1 126
1.5 34
2 439
2.5 133
3 1987
3.5 496
4 5568
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6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014118776X, 1405807040, 0141036141, 0141191201, 0143566490, 0141391707


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