1984 George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell's last novel, chronicling the life of a man under a modern totalitarian state.

North Korea has followed the plan exactly as described in the novel, from the cult of personality around a

Of course, this kind of repression can never happen in the land of the free. (Photo by Beatrice Murch)

The spectre of constant surveillance is used here as a device to sell handbags. Next season's

Just The Facts

  1. George Orwell originally considered 1948, 1980, and 1982 as possible titles. He settled on 1984 partly as an homage to Jack London's dystopia "The Iron Heel," where the "wonder city" of Asgard is set to complete in the then-distant year of 1984.
  2. David Bowie wrote a song called "1984." It's okay
  3. # In Orwell's novel, the Ministry of Peace is responsible for war, the Ministry of Truth for propaganda, and the Ministry of Love for maintaining law and order.
  4. # Though the book's real title is "Nineteen Eighty-Four," everyone agrees that "1984" is way easier to type.

Politics and the English Language

Nineteen Eighty-Four (alternately 1984) chronicles the life of a man under a modern totalitarian state. "1984," "Big Brother" and "Thought Police" are routinely used as shorthand for state encroachment on civil liberties, excessive surveillance, and other encroachments onto freedom of speech and of the press. Ironically (yes ironically, I do know what that means), abuse of these words is sometimes used to keep people towing the party line, e.g. yelling "Thought Police" if you question someone's opinion, or using totalitarianism as the culmination of a slippery slope argument, e.g. "If we create a public option for healthcare, then Big Brother will just get stronger!"

The book's influence on the English language was extensive: concepts like mediaspeak, crowdthink and fashion police owe Orwell a debt of gratitude. Even the man's name became its own adjective (see below).

Orwellian vs. Kafkaesque - Who Would Win in a Bar Fight?

Both Orwellian and Kafkaesque are misused by the vast majority of its users. In casual conversation, anything from going to traffic court to walking around stoned on mushrooms can be compared to a hellish trap from which there is no escape. While both authors give people a useful shorthand to refer to distressing experiences at the hands of authority, there are important differences between the two.

To avoid further mix-up, here is a handy chart on How to Tell if Your Nightmare Existence is Orwellian or Kafkaesque.

Mitigating circumstances can complicate things. If, for example, you're an attractive Jew with confidence issues in North Korea, or a penniless Englishman in Cesky Krumlov, all bets are off. High School