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1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

George Orwell , Thomas Pynchon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (693 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Jan 2004

George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four is perhaps the most pervasively influential book of the twentieth century, published with an introduction by Ben Pimlott in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past'

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), better known by his pen-name, George Orwell, was born in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. An author and journalist, Orwell was one of the most prominent and influential figures in twentieth-century literature. His unique political allegory Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with the dystopia of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame. All his novels and non-fiction, including Burmese Days (1934), Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) and Homage to Catalonia (1938) are published in Penguin Modern Classics.

If you enjoyed Nineteen Eighty-Four, you might like Orwell's Animal Farm, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'His final masterpiece ... enthralling and indispensible for understanding modern history'

Timothy Garton-Ash, New York Review of Books

'The book of the twentieth century ... haunts us with an ever-darker relevance'

Independent


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118776X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141187761
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (693 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George Orwell is one of England's most famous writers and social commentators. Among his works are the classic political satire Animal Farm and the dystopian nightmare vision Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was also a prolific essayist, and it is for these works that he was perhaps best known during his lifetime. They include Why I Write and Politics and the English Language. His writing is at once insightful, poignant and entertaining, and continues to be read widely all over the world.

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there.

At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.

It was around this time that Orwell's unique political allegory Animal Farm (1945) was published. The novel is recognised as a classic of modern political satire and is simultaneously an engaging story and convincing allegory. It was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which finally brought him world-wide fame. Nineteen Eighty-Four's ominous depiction of a repressive, totalitarian regime shocked contemporary readers, but ensures that the book remains perhaps the preeminent dystopian novel of modern literature.

Orwell's fiercely moral writing has consistently struck a chord with each passing generation. The intense honesty and insight of his essays and non-fiction made Orwell one of the foremost social commentators of his age. Added to this, his ability to construct elaborately imaginative fictional worlds, which he imbued with this acute sense of morality, has undoubtedly assured his contemporary and future relevance.

George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

Product Description

Review

Nineteen Eighty-Four is given fresh life through this vigorous narration (The Observer)

An inspired match of book and reader creates a gripping version of George Orwell's 1984. (One of The Daily Telegraph's Audiobooks of 2009)

Read with the skill and gravitas of Philip Glenister, we are transfixed by Orwell's brilliance. (audiobooksreview.co.uk) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

The birthplace of 'Big Brother'.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
If you can, skip the introduction to 1984.
Forget the film.
Forget that it might be comment on society 50 years ago and that it might apply to Soviet / Sino governments which hardly exist any more.
The themes which Orwell tackles are completely releavant.
So just dive straight in and read about a brilliant, scary, compelling and stark possible-future society.

1984 is an amazingly good read. It's easy to get in to and the characters grip you straight away. The language is pretty straightforward and it's a compact story -- so it's not a marathon 800-page monster like many modern novels can be. The dilemma of Winston Smith is so involving that I've found myself reading the whole book in one or two sessions (and I know exactly what happens!), just because I can't bear to put it down.

So just read it for the pleasure of reading a really great speculative novel, which comments on human society, and human relationships. Yes, it has dated somewhat but that's true of every book. The nightmare which surrounds the main characters isn't affected by the passage of time, and Room 101 is still very, very scary (you'll also discover just how many popular phrases came from this book. Plenty!)

Then, afterwards, you can get really scared about how much of it has come true and how close our society is to that of Orwell's imagination...

And if you were forced to read 1984 or Animal Farm at school, it's worth re-reading it as an adult to appreciate it without someone leaning over your shoulder and telling you what you should be thinking.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True, and becoming truer 26 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
`1984' is Orwell's post-modern classic, concerning what the world may look like in 1984, 40 years after the book was written. In Orwell's dystopia, the UK, as part of Oceania, is ruled by the despotic Big Brother. Big Brother has total control of all the media, and therefore controls all the information reaching the populace. The people, divided into the ruling Inner Party, the middle class Outer Party and the under-educated Proles, have total loyalty to Big Brother, in both thought and deed, and the righteousness of his actions, and the cause of Oceania, is unquestioned. Hints of rebellion, even in people's thoughts, are viciously crushed, and executions are commonplace. Against this background, Winston Smith begins to have doubts. He wants to engage in a love affair (as opposed to the passionless, state-sanctioned marriage) and have the ability to question Big Brother. Smith's attempts at subversion bring him face to face with the workings of the party, and a brutal introduction to the realities of life in Oceania.

Orwell's book chronicles a scary trajectory in which the twentieth century was headed in the 1940s, and at times it is no less relevant today. Although Orwell was writing partially about the totalitarian regimes of Hitler and Stalin, the observation of governments controlling the masses by controlling the flow of information through the media is possibly more pertinent today than ever before. Sometimes our society looks very different from Oceania, but some aspects are scarily similar, and Orwell's book is a timeless reminder about the dangers of giving anyone too much power. Few writers (perhaps only Shakespeare) have introduced so many new phrases to the English language.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affecting and dark 20 Dec 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In 1984, Orwell relates the depressing story of Winston Smith, a doomed citizen living in Airstrip One (formerly known as London), a poverty-ridden dystopia ruled over by The Party: a city where those who show signs of independent thought vanish in the night, where gigantic telescreens monitor Winston's every move, where he must scratch a living on what The Party provides, working a job rewriting old newspapers in The Party's favour while clinging to his sanity through tiny acts of secret rebellion.

The first of these acts is to purchase and write in a diary, and later to meet a female Party member in private (marriage is formally controlled by The Party, and is strictly for the sole purpose of reproduction). It is only when he finds true happiness and apparent haven from the eyes of the Thought Police that The Party choose to act, arresting him and subjecting him to a torture too cruel and lasting to imagine: one that destroys him in a more important way than death ever could.

As harrowing as Winston's despair-ridden tale is, it's the sheer relevance of the world he inhabits that makes the book such a joy to read in the 21st century. With our highly-filtered and biased news reports, a network of CCTV cameras watching us in city centres, tax on our products feeding the government money and censoring laws and activists stifling free speech, comparisons to 1984 are inevitable. In the world of 1984, people are robbed of personal freedom, brainwashed, abducted, tortured, gradually starved, lied to and killed, and the truly terrifying result of The Party's efforts is that there exists no material proof of their crimes.

The book illuminates the darkest eventuality of politics and government control, and makes it feel that bit too real for comfort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Fantastic read.
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Absolutely brilliant book. Probably better than animal farm and that's saying something. I would recommend it as an introduction to Orwell's works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, quality made book.
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