- Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
- Format: Paperback | 400 pages
- Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 24mm | 259g
- Publication date: 1 February 2009
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 014118776X
- ISBN 13: 9780141187761
- Edition statement: New ed.
- Sales rank: 784
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.
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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.
By James Lovatt 27 Aug 2010
Widely regarded as one of the most influential books of all time, George Orwell's haunting science-fiction thriller Nineteen Eighty-Four will have you gripped up to the final page.
From the start you are plunged into the tormented life of working-man Winston Smith, following his path of love, rebellion and betrayal. Orwell unravels the story bit-by-bit, following Smith's first-person narrative and giving the reader his own anxious captivation. Living under constant surveillance by Big Brother, one must wait - almost agonisingly - until the right moment arrives to unearth the next piece of the mystery. Every character is shrouded in uncertainty, every action builds the tension, and you will often find yourself reading the next chapter before you've finished the last.
George Orwell's heavily political subtext will not appeal to all readers. It does require some understanding of political movements to understand the intentions of the all-seeing Party. Nevertheless, this is not essential to understand the situation Smith is in, and the feelings he has.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is truly a revolutionary piece of literature, and its impact is clear to see from the neologisms which sprouted from it, such as Orwellian, Room 101, thought-crime, and of course: Big Brother.