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Joe Vitus
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:47 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 14498 Location: Houston
I wish those Asimov articles were available online. It's really wonderful the way he punctures holes in just about every plot device and prediction in the novel.

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jeremy
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:52 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 6794 Location: Derby, England and Hamilton, New Zealand (yes they are about 12,000 miles apart)
Asimov is a fine one to talk.

Science fiction, though it would be more accurate to refer to 1984 as dystopian fiction, based in the near future is always going to be a hostage to fortune. The London of 1984 had little in common with that depicted in the novel, though you might not have found it so off the mark if you were living in East Germany at the time. If asked in 1984, I may well have suggested that Alduous Huxley's Brave New World , with its satire of consumerism and its warnings about the loss of meaning and spirituality in our lives, was the more prescient novel. However, but that was before the 'War On Terror' and the abuses of the Bush era, including the uncontroleld monitoring of e-mails and telephone calls, the abuse of patriotism and the conflation of the interests of the administration with those of the country.

1984 is flawed, but it should not read as either meant to be read as a purely predictive text or as grippin story in its own right. Its strengths lie in its explorations of the nature of power and the rights of the individual against those of the state.

The concepts it introduced, including the use of fear and constant war to control a population and doublethink seem as valid as ever. Arguably, it has influenced are language and thought more than any other novel. It has provided us with an armoury of responses to counter tyranny. It is an intellectual work that towers above just about anything produced by Asimov.

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marantzo
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:06 pm Reply with quote
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I actually liked the radio play the best of the three, and the book wasn't great in a literary way but great as a dystopian look at the future.
whiskeypriest
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:22 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
billyweeds wrote:
Joe Vitus wrote:
marantzo wrote:
Linked to another thread. The 1956 version of 1984 with Edmond O'Brien and Jan Sterling is way overlooked. In fact pretty well completely unknown. It's an excellent movie that puts the novel on screen without losing a bit of it's impact. I was first introduced to 1984 by a radio play that I caught when I was 13 or 14. I used to have the radio on when I was doing my homework at my desk. Inevitably I would listen to the radio programmes and never did finish my homework. 1984 absolutely stunned me. What a frightening tale, with "Oranges and lemons, Says the bells of St. Clements" playing at different times in the background providing a creepy and ironic context to the happenings. That song, the antisex league, Big Brother watching, the ubiquity of undercover agents, one in particular who is so deep undercover that you think he is real good guy, room 101 and the terror that forces one to rat out (literally and figuratively) his love has never left my memory. From there I read the book and around ten years later I caught the movie on TV. All three were perfect explications of the story.

Like Of Mice and Men I had seen the original and had no desire to see a remake.


You are, literally, the first person I've ever known to like this movie. And yours is the only positive review of it I've seen in print.

Personally, I think the book is way overrated (Asimov wrote a great couple of articles tearing down the premises), so I've never watched any of the adaptations.


Joe--You and I are on the very same page. I think 1984 is boring, and this comes from someone who counts Animal Farm as one of his favorite books, so I'm not anti-Orwell. Far from it.

O'Brien and Sterling, both of whom I often admire elsewhere, are wasted in the movie version of 1984.
I'll join the party. Though I think Animal Farm, while much better, is not all that great. Orwell was a tremendous essayist - my favorite of his books is Homage to Catalonia, and the essay at the end of 1984 was better than anything in the book - but not a great novelist.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:35 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8619 Location: Shanghai
    talhotblond
    Facing Ali
    Mary & Max

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bartist
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:29 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6453
Quote:
The concepts it introduced, including the use of fear and constant war to control a population and doublethink seem as valid as ever. Arguably, it has influenced are language and thought more than any other novel. It has provided us with an armoury of responses to counter tyranny. It is an intellectual work that towers above just about anything produced by Asimov.


Agree, except that I believe Asimov had some powerful things to say about tyranny and centralized power in his Foundation trilogy.

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Syd
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:06 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12541 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
1984 and Brave New World were both heavily influenced by Yevgeny Zamyatin's novel We, which I like much better than either of them. We also influenced Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano and other dystopian novels.

I'm rather amazed Zamyatin managed to get out of Stalin's USSR. His works were, of course, banned.

We, in turn, was influenced by the short story"The New Utopia" by Jerome K. Jerome of all people. Jerome is best known for Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog). You can read "The New Utopia" here:
http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/cultn/cultn014.pdf

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marantzo
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:55 pm Reply with quote
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You're quite a reader, Syd.
bartist
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:10 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6453
Amusing story -- interesting to find Jerome at the base of an idea tree that leads to everyone from Orwell to Connie Willis. Also fun to see an early use of the "numbered people" concept, later found in The Prisoner series.

There was a Jules Verne novel that wasn't discovered until the 1980-90s, that explores similar dystopian ideas, Paris in the 20th Century. After being authenticated, it was published about ten years ago, IIRC.

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Syd
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:14 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12541 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
I hadn't read it before either. I can see the influence on We (which used letters instead of numbers), Player Piano and "Harrison Bergeron". I know Vonnegut read We; I suspect he read Jerome's story too.

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marantzo
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:23 pm Reply with quote
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Fahrenheit 451 might have got some inspiration from those books.
Syd
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:37 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12541 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Huxley claimed that Brave New World was inspired by H. G. Wells's Men Like Gods and he didn't hear of We until later. It's possible, I suppose. Zamyatin was very familiar with Wells's novels. Although We predates Men Like Gods, Wells had been writing utopian novels well before that. Wells was the 800-lb gorilla of Utopian Socialism and was ripe for parody.

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jeremy
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:43 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 6794 Location: Derby, England and Hamilton, New Zealand (yes they are about 12,000 miles apart)
Wells and many others from that time subscribed to an extreme utalitarian and rational world view that was informed by the rapid developments in science and engineering, Darwinism, Malthus, the perceived success of empire and the manifest superiority of the white and, in particular, Anglo-Saxon races. They favoured prescriptions that found little room for the stupid, the infirm or inferior races. Those were heady times and one can understand them reaching the conclusions they did, but this way of thinking reached its nadir in Nazi Germany.

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I am angry, I am ill, and I'm as ugly as sin.
My irritability keeps me alive and kicking.
I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit.
I know beauty and I know a good thing when I see it.
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Joe Vitus
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:07 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 14498 Location: Houston
I haven't read We since an undergrad class in the Russian novel. I liked it at the time.

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Marj
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
I think I need to check out We. You've all spiked my curiosity.

Should we be discussing this in the Book Forum?
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