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1985 by Anthony Burgess
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Comments for 1985

1985: 06/21/14

cover art

1985 by Anthony Burgess is a two part response to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first part is a lengthy essay and dialog looking at the origins of Orwell's novel and its relevance then and now. The second part is Burgess's own dystopia written in a world expanded from that of Orwell's.

While I enjoyed the near future glimpse of things in Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, the second half of 1985 felt labored and overworked. It read like he was fighting against his urge to write like Orwell.

But the first half, the essay section, was fascinating. Burgess dives into the history of the book and its creation. His thesis is that the title was no simple pulling a date out of a hat. Rather it's a play on the time when it was written: 1948. The UK was devastated by the Second World War and the changes being made to the government and social services reflect an attempt for the nation to reinvent itself. Not everyone was convinced such huge changes were warranted at that time (or ever). Orwell's novel is an exploration of what life would be like if government bureaucracy and oversight was taken to the extreme.

Had I not been borrowing the book from the library, I would have read Burgess's essay in conjunction with Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Three stars

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