the ledge files
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Nineteen Eighty-Four
George Orwell
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1949

refered to by:
The Castle
Franz Kafka

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess

Yevgeny Zamyatin

Anthony Burgess

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In 1949, on the heels of another literary classic, Animal Farm, George Orwell wrote 1984, his now legendary and terrifying glimpse into the future. His vision of an omni-present and ultra-repressive State is rooted in the ominous world events of Orwell's own time and is given shape and substance by his astute play on our own fears.

As the novel opens, we learn that in the year 1984, the world has been divided into three states: Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia, all of which, it is said, are almost continually in battle with one another. This world structure has come about following a nuclear war which took place sometime in the 1950's. In the state of Oceania, a revolution has resulted in the rise of an all-seeing figurehead known only as Big Brother, and a secretive group of individuals referred to as The Party. Under this regime, basic freedoms of expression—even thought—are strictly forbidden. History and memory are actively erased and rewritten so as to support the omnipotence and infallibility of The Party and its pronouncements. To this end, the State even employs its own language, Newspeak, and its own thought process, Doublethink.

It's against this background that we are introduced to Winston Smith, a low-level Party member (not to be confused with the elite group which surrounds Big Brother) who works in the Ministry of Truth.
His job here, paradoxically, is to destroy and rewrite news articles and State facts and figures so as to align them with the most current views of The Party. A resident of Airstrip One—formerly London, England—Smith lives in a world devoid of even the simplest liberties. In this repressive society, where thoughts themselves can be ascertained and monitored, Winston finds himself alone and in quiet "revolution" against Big Brother. Boldly, he even goes as far as to write his own thoughts down on paper— a crime worthy of abduction by the Thought Police.

Early in the novel, Winston meets Julia, another worker at the Ministry of Truth, whom he has been watching from afar. Secretly, the two begin a love affair. This liaison inspires Winston to indulge his ever-growing obsession with revolution, and he and Julia begin to discuss, however implausible, ideas for the overthrow of The Party. Winston's eventual (and inevitable) capture at the hands of the Thought Police leads to his purification and re-education by inner Party members.

Orwell's strict attention to detail and realistic description of a world thirty-five years ahead of his own add validity to 1984, and make its larger conclusions all the more frightening. Even today, the novel remains a bleak and shadowy forewarning of what might someday occur.

bookweb from:
Lezen&Cetera, Pieter Steinz

Bleak House
Charles Dickens, 1852-1853

Hard Times
Charles Dickens, 1854

Yevgeny Zamyatin, 1920
In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, nameless numbers, survivors of a devastating war, live out lives devoid of passion and creativity. Until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul.

James Joyce, 1922

H.G. Wells, 1905

Mrs Warren's Profession
George Bernard Shaw, 1898

Major Barbara
George Bernard Shaw, 1905

Darkness at Noon
Arthur Koestler, 1940

Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift, 1726


Nineteen Eighty-Four
Newspeak, Doublethink, Big Brother, the Thought Police - the vocabulary of George Orwell' s classic political satire, Nineteen Eighty-Four, has passed into the English language, symbolising the horrors of totalitarianism.

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley, 1932

Michel Houellebecq, 1998

Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury, 1953

The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood, 1985

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera, 1984

The Eighth Day of the Week
Marek Hlasko, 1956

[Zoeken naar Eileen W.]
Leon de Winter, 1981

The Pickup
Nadine Gordimer, 2001

Reynard the Fox
Anonymous, 1275

Anthony Burgess, 1978

Voltaire, 1759

A Clergyman's Daughter
A loss of memory drives Dorothy, one of England's old maids, from her drab life as 'the rector's daughter' onto the streets of London, to the hop-gardens of Kent and the grimness of a fourth-rate private school.
Keep the Aspidistra Flying
London 1934. Gordon Comstock, copywriter for the The Queen of Sheba Toilet Requisites embarks on a new life as a poetry-writing bookseller with diastrous consequences.
Coming Up for Air
Years in insurance and marriage to the joyless Hilda have been no more than death in life to George Bowling. This and fear of another war take his mind back to the peace of his childhood in a small country town. But his return journey to Lower Binfield brings complete disillusionment.
The Road to Wigan Pier
Commissioned by the Left Book club in 1936, George Orwell set out to report on working class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. The experience profoundly changed him, and in Wigan Pier he unleased a brilliant and bitter polemic that has not lost its force with the passage of time.
Homage to Catalonia
George Orwell's account of his experience as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The book describes the chaos at the Front, the futile young deaths for what became a confused cause, the antique weapons and the disappointment many British Socialists felt on arriving in Spain to help.
Animal Farm
Having got rid of their human master, the animals in this political fable look forward to a life of freedom and plenty. But as a clever, ruthless elite takes control, the other animals find themselves hopelessly ensnared in the same old way.
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The Ledge
editor-in-chief: Stacey Knecht,
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Copyright: Pieter Steinz, Stacey Knecht
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