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Feminist Exploration of Orwell's "84" World


The Guardian newspaper recently reported that a new biography of intellectual and social democratic writer George Orwell reveals that he was misogynistic, homophobic and fanatically anti-communist.  Indeed, other researchers have noted that whilst he denounced state control in his novels, he was ratting on suspected communist sympathisers to the intelligence services.  Still, no one is perfect, and Orwell's warning of what state authoritarians can do has a special resonance for LGBTQIA communities, who are nearly always amongst the first people to be targetted by totalitarianisms, from Revolutionary Cuba in the fifties to Fascist Italy in the twenties to populist Hungary in the modern world.  The Independent newspaper reports on a book which might just be a great stocking filler for fans of political fiction, feminism, and Orwell.  Sandra Newman's "Julia" looks at the story of the partner of Winston Smith in the acclaimed critique of far right and far left dictatorships, "1984".  Julia is a mechanic in the Ministry of Truth’s Fiction Department and when we first meet her, she’s an ideal citizen — embracing the Party line in public, but always cognizant of Big Brother watching via the ubiquitous telescreens and expressing her cynicism only in private. Oh, and she’s falling in love with a young woman named Vicky at the hostel where they both live. Reviewer Rob Merril says "after Winston and Julia, ahem, “rat” each other out to their torturers, we’re treated to a “Part Three” that actually goes beyond the plot of “1984.” It’s the rare answer to that perennial question at the end of a good book, “and then what happened?” And for a little while, just a little, readers can hope that rebellions aren’t always doomed, and an individual might have some power over the collective."   If you decide to order the book amongst your purchases this coming Christmas, then why not uphold values of localism and democracy that Orwell and Sandra Newman would hold dear.  Use an independent, co-operative, radical or community bookstore rather than large corporations.


Women Writers
George Orwell
Progressive Politics
Twentieth Century

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