One of the things that really struck me in this rereading was the use of Emmanuel Goldstein’s book ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’ to build out the world of 1984. This reminded me of the way in which Raphael Hythloday retells his experience of Utopia in Thomas More’s book. One of the odd consequences of this is that although it is easy to imagine another character living in Eurasia providing a similar recount of life, it feels difficult to understand how any other character might actually respond to this world. For example, how might the novel be different written from O’Brien’s point of view? Or Ampleforth the poet? Is Winston alone in his thoughts? Are there others who actually feel the same way? What do other’s actually feel? Here I am reminded of the paranoia captured in something like Stasiland or The Matrix, but also the modern world of ‘templated selves‘, the world of likes and continuous observation captured in something like The Circle and The Every.
Nineteen Eighty-Four (also stylised as 1984) is a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale written by the English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell’s ninth and final book completed in his lifetime. Thematically, it centres on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society. Orwell, a democratic socialist, modelled the authoritarian state in the novel on Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within societies and the ways in which they can be manipulated.