Nineteen Eighty-Four: Orwell's dystopian classic
Bridget Kendall explores George Orwell’s totalitarian vision that has surprising resonances today, with guests Dorian Lynskey, John Rodden and Masha Karp.
The vision of the future evoked in George Orwell’s last novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was so terrifying to its first readers that some claimed to be unable to sleep at night. When the book was adapted by the BBC for the new medium of television after Orwell’s death, millions became aware of the novel’s concepts and language which have since seeped into Western popular culture. Big Brother, Room 101, the thought police, doublethink: few novels of the 20th century have had such a lasting impact.
Over the seventy years since its publication, world events have brought Orwell’s vision into focus at various points. The Cold War, the collapse of Communism, the rise of surveillance, and the inauguration of President Trump are among those moments in history which have made readers return to the novel time and again.
Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss the origins of Orwell’s novel and its ongoing relevance are Professor John Rodden, author of George Orwell: Life and Letters, Legend and Legacy; journalist and writer Dorian Lynskey whose biography of Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Ministry of Truth, was published in 2019; and editor of the George Orwell Society Journal Masha Karp, writer of the forthcoming George Orwell and Russia (Bloomsbury Academic).
Photo: A man holding a German translation of George Orwell's 1984. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)