The Hell of 1984

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Submitted By majbch
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The Hell of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
). Did Orwell realise quite what he had done in Nineteen Eighty-Four? His post-publication glosses on its meaning reveal either blankness or bad faith even about its contemporary political implications. He insisted, for example, that his 'recent novel [was] NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter)'.(1) He may well not have intended it but that is what it can reasonably be taken to be. Warburg saw this immediately he had read the manuscript, and predicted that Nineteen Eighty-Four '[was] worth a cool million votes to the Conservative Party';(2) the literary editor of the Evening Standard 'sarcastically prescribed it as "required reading" for Labour Party M.P.s',(3) and, in the US, the Washington branch of the John Birch Society 'adopted "1984" as the last four digits of its telephone number'.(4) Moreover, Churchill had made the 'inseparably interwoven' relation between socialism and totalitarianism a plank in his 1945 election campaign(5) (and was not the protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-Four called Winston?). If, ten years earlier, an Orwell had written a futuristic fantasy in which Big Brother had had Hitler's features rather than Stalin's, would not the Left, whatever the writer's proclaimed political sympathies, have welcomed it as showing how capitalism, by its very nature, led to totalitarian fascism?
With Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is particularly necessary to trust the tale and not the teller, but even this has its pitfalls. Interpretations of the novel already exist which blatantly ignore the intentions of the author by reinterpreting its manifest content without any obvious justification. But all existing interpretations of Nineteen Eighty-Four are unsatisfactory in one regard or another. For many years Nineteen Eighty-Four 'served as a sort of an ideological…...

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