Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nineteen Eighty-Four Redux

In the wake of Edward Snowden's revelation that the National Security Agency has been routinely spying on millions of Americans' emails and online activities, sales of George Orwell's novel 1984 have risen 5800 percent on Amazon. (All purchasers have, of course, earned themselves a spot on a new NSA watchlist and a reserved cell at the Federal Ministry of Love, now under construction near Osawatomie, Kansas.) I'm sure the Orwell estate appreciated the boost in sales, but 1984 didn't really need it; it was an instant classic when it first appeared at the start of the Cold War, and high school teachers have preserved its canonical status ever since. It has also been an important influence on science fiction novels and films, like Terry Gilliam's Brazil and Cory Doctorow's recent YA novel Little Brother, even though Orwell was himself ambivalent toward the newfangled SF genre and determined to stay within the literary mainstream. I addressed the question of whether one can regard 1984 as a work of science fiction in this blog entry, published last year but now a bit more topically relevant.

No comments:

Post a Comment