“War Is Peace.” Especially after 1984

On this day, 69 years ago, a man sent the final manuscript of his book to his publisher.

At that point, the man could have dreamt for his manuscript to be published as a novel. But little did he know that in the years to follow it would become one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

The writer’s name was Eric Arthur Blair, although we all know him better by his pen name George Orwell. The novel, of course, was “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Or rather, the four numbers. It is considered one of the key dystopian novels that have constituted this genre for what it is, alongside Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” (1924), and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” (1932).

Although Orwell’s novel does draw some inspiration from its predecessors, especially “Brave New World” (after all, both of those novels are set in London), “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is an entirely original piece of speculative fiction. In order to paint the faceless and soulless world that his (anti-)heroes inhabit, Orwell even invented a language, the so-called Newspeak, heavily based on English, but deprived of all emotions and idiolectic nuances.

Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the world divided between three superpowers that are in perpetual war with each other is, well… nightmarish! This is a world of fear, violence, war and brainwashing. To get straight to the point – it is our world. How’s that for fiction, ha George?

Let’s rewind a short but telling dialogue between Winston and O’Brien.

– You’re a slow learner, Winston.

– How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.

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– Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.

And, unfortunately, war is peace. Forever.

Grave of Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell), All Saints, Sutton Courtenay - geograph.org.uk - 362277

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  1. […] George Orwell once said: “I managed to get my copy of Ulysses through safely this time. I rather wish I had never read it. It gives me an inferiority complex. When I read a book like that and then come back to my own work, I feel like a eunuch who has taken a course in voice production.” Ouch! […]

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