What would Nineteen Eighty-Four be like if it were written today?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
New Writing, 2020, 17 (1), pp. 19 - 30
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. If George Orwell were alive today what would his politics be? The writer Norman Podhoretz posed this question in 1983 and concluded that Orwell would have sided with the neo-conservatives. For Podhoretz, Orwell's driving passion was his opposition to totalitarianism, and if he had lived, Podhoretz argued, he would have come to identify with those neo-conservatives opposed to Soviet expansionism. Great writers engage with the changing times and by using their imaginations transform their ideas and environments into fiction. More than any other writer of the 20th century, Orwell responded to a period of historical change by imagining his dystopian future of Nineteen Eighty-Four, perhaps the most influential political novel ever written. At the same time Nineteen Eighty-Four was very much a product of post-war England with its rations and shortages. Orwell, in fact, remained a socialist until his death in January 1950, but the far more intriguing question is what Nineteen Eighty-Four would be like if it were written today, in an age of Islamist terror, fake news and post-truth politics.
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