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Nineteen Eighty-four

by George Orwell

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"Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere."

The year is 1984; the scene is London, largest population center of Airstrip One.

Airstrip One is part of the vast political entity Oceania, which is eternally at war with one of two other vast entities, Eurasia and Eastasia. At any moment, depending upon current alignments, all existing records show either that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, or that it has always been at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia. Winston Smith knows this, because his work at the Ministry of Truth involves the constant "correction" of such records. "'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"

In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party's official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime--in 1984, George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian control that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly, he has portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia. In our deeply anxious world, the seeds of unthinking conformity are everywhere in evidence; and Big Brother is always looking for his chance. --Daniel Hintzsche

From AudioFile
Orwell's classic continues to deliver its horrible vision of totalitarian society. Once considered futuristic, it now conjures fear because of how closely it fits the reality of contemporary times. West's precise pronunciation and strong, intense voice provide the narration and all individual parts. The three major characters are individualized through vocal emphasis, tone and interpretation of each character's personality. West simultaneously weaves the spell of Big Brother while subtly emphasizing the complex emotional and intellectual annihilation of each of the characters. Starting with a detached approach, West intensifies emotions and ends with a finish that leaves the plot firmly embedded in the listener's mind. P.A.J. An AUDIOFILE Earphones Award winner. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

"Orwell's best-known work of unrelenting dystopian realism warns against totalitarianism." --AudioFile

Book Description
First appearing in 1949, the novel 1984 seemed like a nightmarish vision of the future in a totalitarian world. Playing on the public's worst fears about governmental control, different readings saw the former Soviet Union as the object of satire, while others focused on increasingly powerful democratic governments.

The title, George Orwell’s 1984, part of Chelsea House Publishers’ Modern Critical Interpretations series, presents the most important 20th-century criticism on George Orwell’s 1984 through extracts of critical essays by well-known literary critics. This collection of criticism also features a short biography on George Orwell, a chronology of the author’s life, and an introductory essay written by Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Yale University.

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by George Orwell, published in 1949 as a warning about the menaces of totalitarianism. The novel is set in an imaginary future world that is dominated by three perpetually warring totalitarian police states. The book's hero, Winston Smith, is a minor party functionary in one of these states. His longing for truth and decency leads him to secretly rebel against the government. Smith has a love affair with a like-minded woman, but they are both arrested by the Thought Police. The ensuing imprisonment, torture, and reeducation of Smith are intended not merely to break him physically or make him submit but to root out his independent mental existence and his spiritual dignity. Orwell's warning of the dangers of totalitarianism made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and the book's title and many of its coinages, such as NEWSPEAK, became bywords for modern political abuses.

Card catalog description
A guide to reading "1984" with a critical and appreciative mind. Includes background on the author's life and times, sample tests, term paper suggestions, and a reading list.

From the Publisher
7 1.5-hour cassettes



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