Orwell (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
It has long been known that George Orwell drew upon his wartime experiences when he came to write Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The drab, forbidding landscape of Winston Smith’s Oceania (subject of two films, the most recent of which captures this aspect of the novel rather better than the 1950’s version) reflects Orwell’s almost phobic aversion to the England that emerged during and after the war, revealing not only the bombed-out buildings and the war-enforced deprivations but also the generalized regimentation and imposed conformity in domestic and public building, which became part of the postwar Labour government’s effort to rebuild and reshape a shattered nation. INGSOC, the political and social dogma of Oceania, while it was in part motivated by a generous dose of anti-Communist ideology (deriving from Orwell’s long-standing contempt for the Soviet Union and its local incarnation, the Communist Party of Great Britain), was more directly a representation of the Clement Attlee government’s attempt to direct social spending toward the masses of underprivileged British workers and the unemployed, to give them for the first time in history a solid and secure material basis upon which to build a decent life. To the extent that any such program of general social improvement would require centralized bureaucracy and state control, it can be said that Orwell’s horrific fantasy of the future (he himself...
(The entire section is 1704 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Booklist. LXXXI, August, 1985, p. 1598.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, July 15, 1985, p. 706.
Library Journal. CX, October 15, 1985, p. 88.
National Review. XXXVII, November 29, 1985, p. 56.
New Leader. LXVIII, September 9, 1985, p. 19.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, November 17, 1985, p. 18.
The New Yorker. LXI, October 21, 1985, p. 151.
Newsweek. CVI, October 28, 1985, p. 89.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVIII, August 2, 1985, p. 56.
Washington Post Book World. XV, September 8, 1985, p. 11.
(The entire section is 55 words.)