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Atkins, John. George Orwell: A Literary Study. London: Calder and Boyars, 1971. A long and detailed account of Orwell’s climb to maturity as a political writer. Because it was written in 1954, this book presents a dated perspective on Orwell’s work.

Gardner, Averil. George Orwell. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Examines Orwell’s novels, his longer nonfiction, and his essays for theme, recurrent motifs, and critical response. Includes a chronology, an extended bibliography, and an index.

Hynes, Samuel, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “1984”: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971. Offers both favorable and negative criticism and the particular angles of many different critics. The chapters are reviews, essays, and viewpoints; even a letter from Aldous Huxley to Orwell is included.

Lee, Robert A. Orwell’s Fiction. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969. A chronicle of the development of Orwell’s career as a novelist. Themed sections include Orwell’s look at poverty and the stricken individual, social strife, and his apocalyptic vision as expressed in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Williams, Raymond, ed. George Orwell: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974. A chronological arrangement of essays on the development of Orwell’s writing. A study of not only Orwell’s development over time but also the impact of his work over time, with essays from writers of three generations.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Quotations from 1984 are taken from the following edition:

Orwell, George. 1984. Afterword by Erich Fromm. New York: Signet, 1992. In addition, Fromm’s Afterword was indispensable to this study.

Alldritt, Keith. The Making of George Orwell. London: Edward Arnold Ltd., 1969.

Baruch, Elaine Hoffman. “The Golden Country: Sex and Love in 1984,” in 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century. Harper & Row, 1983, pp. 47-56.

Bloom, Harold, ed. George Orwell: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Christgau, Robert. “Writing for the People,” in The Village Voice, February 1, 1983, pp. 54–5.

Crick, Bernard. George Orwell: A Life. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1980.

Esslin, Martin. “Television and Telescreen,” in On Nineteen Eighty-Four, edited by Peter Stansky. W. H. Freeman & Co., 1983, pp. 126-38.

Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund. George Orwell & Nineteen Eighty-Four. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Gottlieb, Erika. The Orwell Conundrum: A Cry of Despair or Faith in the Spirit of Man? Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1992.

Hammond, J. R. A George Orwell Companion—A Guide to the Novels, Documents, and Essays. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982.

Howe, Irving. “1984: Enigmas of Power,” in 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century, edited by Irving Howe. Harper & Row, 1983, pp. 3-18.

Howe, Irving, ed. 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century. New York: Harper and Row, 1983.

Kalechofsky, Roberta. George Orwell. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1973.

Myers, Valerie. George Orwell. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Smith, Marcus. “The Wall of Blackness: A Psychological Approach to 1984,” in Modern Fiction Studies, Winter, 1968-69, pp. 42-33.

Watt, Ian. “Winston Smith: The Last Humanist,” in On Nineteen Eighty-Four. W. H. Freeman, 1983, pp. 103-13.

Woodcock, George. The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1966.

Wykes, David. A Preface to Orwell. London & New York: Longman Group, Ltd., 1987.

For Further Reading

Chilton, Paul, and Aubrey Crispin, eds. Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1984. Comedia Publishing Group, 1983. Collection of essays focusing on the relevance of Orwell’s novel in contemporary political and social life.

College Literature, Vol. XI, No. 1, 1984, pp. 1-113. Issue devoted to studies of 1984.

Gross, Miriam, ed. The World of George Orwell. Simon & Schuster, 1972. Collection of critical and biographical essays.

Kazin, Alfred. “Not One of Us,” in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXXI, no. 10, June 14, 1984, pp. 13-4, 16, 18. Kazin discusses the political nature of Orwell’s novel.

Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, Spring 1975, pp. 3-136. Issue devoted to Orwell criticism.

Munk, Erica. “Love Is Hate: Women and Sex in 1984,” in Village Voice, Vol. XXVIII, No. 5, February 1, 1983, pp. 50-2. Munk criticizes Orwell's novel for its inattention to the roles (or lack thereof) of women in Oceania.

Podhoretz, Norman. “If Orwell Were Alive Today,” in Harper’s, Vol. 266, No. 1592, January, 1983, pp. 30-2, 34-7. Podhoretz, using the text of 1984 as evidence, claims Orwell for the neo-conservatives.

Watt, Ian. “Winston Smith: The Last Humanist,” in On Nineteen Eighty-Four, edited by Peter Stansky. W. H. Freeman & Co., 1983, pp. 103-13. Watt describes Winston Smith as a humanist and his destruction at the hands of the Party as the destruction of the values of humanism.

Woodcock, George. Remembering Orwell, edited by Stephen Wadhams. Penguin, 1984. Woodcock disagrees with writers such as Podhoretz who claim Orwell for the neo-conservatives, placing him instead in a line of English literary radicals including Jonathan Swift and Charles Dickens.


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Seven years after the publication of the novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four was made into a motion picture (produced by N. Peter Rathvon; directed by Michael Anderson; screenplay by William T. Templeton and Ralph Bettison; presented as a Holiday Film Production by Columbia Pictures in 1956). Released under the title 1984 with Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling, and Michael Redgrave in the major roles, the film version was considered an overly ambitious artistic undertaking. Critical reaction to the film was generally unfavorable, citing the creative difficulties in transferring the thematic complexities of the novel to the screen adaptation. However, the film was considered partially successful in capturing the ominous tone and paralyzing effect of Orwell's futuristic vision.

In 1984, preconceived to coincide and consequently capitalize on the arrival of apocalypse, a new screen version was released by Atlantic Releasing Corporation (directed and written by Michael Radford; director of photography, Roger Deakins; presented by Virgin Films/Umbrella-Rosenblum Films Production). Suffering from similar circumstances as the original version, Radford's 1984 was greeted with mixed critical reception. Due primarily to the inherent importance of language, or more specifically the corruption of language, in the sequential and thematic structure of the novel, it seems apparent that Orwell's narrative technique does not translate well into visual terms. Most interesting in the film were the exceptional performances by Richard Burton, in his last screen appearance, Suzanne Hamilton, and especially John Hurt in the role of Winston Smith.

Media Adaptations

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  • 1984 (1984), a very fine adaptation of George Orwell’s infamous novel, 1984, by director Michael Kadford, features John Hurt and Richard Burton in his final screen performance.

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Historical and Social Context