A week for Nineteen Eighty-Four

Friday 14 June 2013

The Orwell Prize, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, is supported by the Media Standards Trust, Political Quarterly, AM Heath and Richard Blair (Orwell’s son). Following its 64th publication anniversary on Sunday sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four spiked amid the surveillance disclosures. Amazon.com reported that the sales increased by 7,000% taking the book from a ranking of 13,074 to the top 200 in the bestseller lists. News outlets across the globe have taken this opportunity to ask questions like, “Is Obama Big Brother, at once omnipresent and opaque? And are we doomed to either submit to the safety of unthinking orthodoxy or endure re-education and face what horrors lie within the dreaded Room 101?” For a selection of the coverage on this see our ‘From elsewhere’ section below. For lots more on Nineteen Eighty-Four you can see the dedicated page on our website.

Dystopian visions of the future

Don’t forget our forthcoming event with The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, hosted by our new friends at their headquarters in Manchester. The Orwell Prize is taking Dr Michael Sayeau for a discussion on Dystopian Visions of the Future. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Anthony Burgess’s dystopias (including 1985 and A Clockwork Orange) provide the starting point for the conversation in which Sayeau will be joined by Dr Eleanor Byrne (MMU) and Dr Kaye Mitchell (University of Manchester) to examine literary dystopias, and to consider the significance of dystopian ideas for contemporary readers. The event will take place on the evening of Thursday 27th June. Places are free, full details here. In the meantime, you might like to have a listen to this brilliant podcast on Burgess and dystopias.

Things I Don’t Want to Know

Man Booker shortlisted author Deborah Levy has written a response to Orwell’s essay ‘Why I Write’. “Perhaps when Orwell described sheer egoism as a necessary quality for a writer, he was not thinking about the sheer egoism of a female writer. Even the most arrogant female writer has to work over time to build an ego that is robust enough to get her through January, never mind all the way to December,” says Levy of her new work entitled Things I don’t want to know. On Wednesday night we joined Notting Hill Editions to celebrate the launch of the essay at Daunt Books, Marylebone. You can get your copy here now.

From elsewhere

  • Sales of the George Orwell Classic Nineteen Eighty-Four Soar in the TIME
  • ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Sales Spike Amid Surveillance Disclosures in Wall Street Journal
  • So are we living in 1984 in The New Yorker
  • George Orwell back in fashion as Prism stokes paranoia about Big Brother in The Guardian
  • China: turn to Orwell too, post-Snowden in The Financial Times
  • The diaries

    Don’t forget our other Orwell Diary blogs: his Wartime Diary, Hop-Picking Diary and The Road to Wigan Pier Diary. You can sign up to our newsletter If you’ve got any suggestions about our website(s), we’d love to hear from you – email us on katriona.lewis@mediastandardstrust.org. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.