Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most famous and influential novels of the 20th century. Written by George Orwell after the second world war, it tells the story of Winston, who is a citizen of a future totalitarian state named Oceania.
Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the future was no doubt inspired by the decades of totalitarianism experienced by the world in the 20s, 30s and 40s. He himself fought against fascists (on both the right and the left) in the Spanish Civil War.
This book is a classic science-fiction dystopia, filled with fantastic technological inventions, (that may now seem quaint of familiar!) such as telescreens, that facilitate the government’s surveillance and totalitarian control. The tone is ominous and foreboding, and there is frequent use of neologisms.
Many ideas contained within the novel have also entered common parlance: Newspeak, Doublethink, Thoughtcrime, and Big Brother, among others. ‘Orwellian’ has even become an adjective to describe an oppressive, totalitarian, surveillance state!
While the year 1984 has come and gone, the influence of this novel continues to grow. If you only read one novel before leaving high school, it should be this one!
- Sparknotes. This resource provides an in-depth and comprehensive summary of the novel’s context, plot and analysis. It is a useful resource, but try to form your own ideas and opinions about the text before going here.
- Shmoop. This site is much the same as Sparknotes, but written in a more accessible style. For ideas it is great, but don’t emulate the casual written style in your own essays!
- Resource folder. All the resources I create I will place into this folder. You can find individual links to documents below.
- George Orwell. An introduction to the author.
- Background information. An introduction to the text and context.
- Depth study. Questions to guide your analysis of the text and preparation for the paper 2 examination.