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Revisiting 1984 in 2020

Guest Post by Raymond Abbott.

Recently I came upon a paperback copy of the novel 1984, George Orwell’s classic. I first read it easily fifty years ago. I remembered well the overall theme, a fictional account of the totalitarian government that existed in England in 1984, and well before that date.  What I didn’t recall were the particulars, the details, the events, the various characters, even the main character’s name, Winston.

I found the story engrossing for the first 100 pages, almost what one might call a page turner. Then the narrative slowed way down, almost stopped,  at least for me. This happened with the introduction of Julia, Winston’s lover.

What I noticed this time through is just how hostile Orwell is toward women. I quote a line (and there are others). He writes, “It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nose out of unorthodoxy.”

Hard to imagine getting such words past today’s gatekeepers, many of whom are women. I say lucky for Orwell that he published when he did, late forties, or there might not exist a 1984 novel for me to reread.

1984 by George Orwell. Secker & Warburg, June 1949.

Reviewer bio: Raymond Abbott lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Once in a while his prose is published. He used to be a social worker working among severely mentally disabled adults in Louisville.

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