16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Considered analysis and a less ordered novella,
This review is from: 1985 (Paperback)
I write my review mainly in response to the previous reviewer AF who denounced the novella part of this book as "utter drivel" and "like an extended Daily Mail leader column". Unfortunately the reviewer allowed his politics to interfere with his ability to review in a non-partisan fashion which I personally find a great shame as it could taint this interesting little book for other potential readers.
The first part of the book is a measured and intelligent review of 1984. Burgess entertainingly places the book back in the time that it was written namely 1948. He provides us with a history of the UK, particuarly London post war and shows how the future which Orwell describes is merely an extension of the present view out of his window. This for me, neatly offered a context that had lingered in my head but wasn't something I had properly explored during the umpteenth times that I have read the book.
As a companion piece to 1984 this works neatly, in fact the first part of 1985 could be published as an introduction to 1984 rather than a standalone book. The question and answer approach Burgess adopts is clever and witty.
The second part of the book - the novella - was written in 1978. As a reader it would be worth considering the UK and the role of the trade unions in 1978 to place the story into the context of the time that Burgess was writing, just as Burgess did with Orwell's 1984. To understand this context it is worth allowing yourself a moment of history (read an article from the New Statesman of Sept 1975 called The Rise of the Know-Nothing Left by former Socialist and historian Paul Johnson as a starting point) to see that Burgess like Orwell was addressing a political mood of the time rather than making a generalised "rightwing" argument. By doing this I would hope it would enable the reader to understand why he chose to write about the impact of the closed shop trade unions as his dystopian future and not just lazily dismiss it as a 21st century Daily Mail leader column.
This book is far from perfect but it's worth a read if you want an insight into Orwell's world, or simply if you like political dystopian fiction regardless of your politics.
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Initial post: 29 Aug 2015 12:20:37 BDT
S. J. Hannaway says:
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