History, Literature, Politics

Occasional Quote of the Day: George Orwell’s 1984

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

1984 was published seventy years ago, on June 8, 1949. At the time of its publication, 1984 was thirty-five years in the future. Today, 1984 is thirty-five years in the past. Yet, here we still are to talk about it. More or less. So to speak.

There are so many quotable quotes–some amusing, some frighteningly prescient–and so many truths, in George Orwell’s novel of British dystopia,** that I thought I’d just start with the first sentence and ask you to take it from there, with any commentary you’d like to include. Please share your favorites, those you think are or meaningful or particularly interesting–even if you think Orwell was quite wrong. Or any other thoughts you have on the subject.

**Orwell said that 1984 was his vision of what Communism would look like after it had infected and taken over British society. He could hardly have described his locale more clearly than he did in the second paragraph of Chapter 1, which starts out, “The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats.” Anyone who’s ever spent any time in the bowels of an old-fashioned English boarding school will know the dreary milieu he’s invoking. (I’d probably add, “slightly spoiled fruit,” in between the two endpoints, just to make sure though.)

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