Can you recommend material that further analyzes Orwell's 1984?
December 14, 2009 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I recently read George Orwell's 1984 for the first time, and I was blown away by it! Can you recommend theses/essays/discussions that can be found on the web?
posted by helios410 to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Politics and the English Language isn't an analysis of 1984, but it does address many of the same themes Orwell visits in the novel, especially w.r.t. Newspeak.
posted by jingzuo at 1:15 PM on December 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

Pynchon on 1984.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're interested in similar works, Orwell was arguably heavily influenced by an earlier novel We.
posted by ijoshua at 2:08 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I second jingzuo's "Politics and the English Language" suggestion.
If you're going to read around 1984 then you might also find Animal Farm interesting. It isn't analysis, but it has a very allegorical rendering of Orwell's views on totalitarianism.
posted by Hoenikker at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2009

Seconding Yevgeny Zamyatin's We. The Natasha Randall translation does an excellent job of rendering this difficult-to-translate Russian classic into an excellent English equal, and you'll certainly recognize the main thrust of the story as a sort of alternate version of the affair between Winston and Julia in 1984. It's great stuff, and although I read 1984 at an impressionable time (around the age of 13) and in a place where the story had more overt and palpable overtones (Yugoslavia, in the Communist era), it's We that really holds a place in my heart. It's almost as if someone ramped up 1984 to a more genuinely futuristic place - except, of course, that it was written before 1984, and was an influence upon it. It's more experimental - for wont of a better word - but not too tough.

Of course, it's not any sort of analysis of 1984, but a great tool in better understanding Orwell's work.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2009

Politics and the English Language, absolutely.

You might also have a look at Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, which is nothing at all like 1984, but which describes his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, something that I'm certain had an effect on his later thinking/writing.
posted by lex mercatoria at 3:56 PM on December 14, 2009

I suppose it doesn't entirely answer your question because you're specificially looking for info about 1984, but I have to tell you that when I was about 15 or so, I decided to start reading "classics" and fell in love with a bunch of similar-ilk books, and now at 29 I still try to read several of them at least once a year. 1984, (hated animal farm, sorry), Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, Slaughterhouse 5 (ok, I admit, much different). Now I'm brain farting and forgetting the rest...but that's a start.

For a while I was so cool that my functioning email address was I believed the man know...out there.
posted by TomMelee at 5:50 PM on December 14, 2009

Sorry to also provide another non-1984-specific answer, but I loved 1984 and promptly stumbled upon this other story by him, which easily trumped 1984 (and is my #1 favorite short story of all time now). There are some similar themes...society, groupthink, social pressures and stratification, etc. The link contains the entire story. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:08 PM on December 14, 2009

Also, search results for 1984+orwell from Google Scholar here.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:10 PM on December 14, 2009

Welcome to the club. 1984 is my favorite novel of all time. I reread it every year or so and every single time I get something new out of it.

While I don't have any specific online recommendations, I own this book, which is a compendium of what you're looking for. I found it at a used bookstore in town (I collect editions of 1984...)

You can, however, read through the wiki and then work your way through the citations at the end.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 8:16 PM on December 14, 2009

I would recommend 1985 by Anthony Burgess, which is an essay on 1984, and an attempt to update it from 1978.
posted by rfs at 8:30 PM on December 14, 2009

I'm presently reading The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, which was published in 1944, five years before 1984 and which Orwell reviewed in The Observer. I'm struck by the similarities between Orwell's 'newspeak' and what Hayek wrote about how totalitarian society relies on abuse of language.

I haven't read Orwell's review, but Wikipedia presents two quotes (which don't touch the language issue):
George Orwell responded to the book with both praise and criticism, stating, "in the negative part of Professor Hayek's thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often — at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough — that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamt of". Yet he also warned, "[A] return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the state."
posted by Anything at 1:32 AM on December 15, 2009

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