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1984 Book Cover - Penguin Edition

Nineteen Eighty Four

The 2019 Festival of the Future City marked the 70th anniversary of the first publication of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four with special events and the distribution of 1,000 free copies of the book.

Described by Robert McCrum as ‘Probably the definitive novel of the 20th century, a story that remains eternally fresh and contemporary’ (the Observer, 2009), Nineteen Eighty-Four depicts a society kept subservient to a repressive state through continuous surveillance and the effective use of highly-orchestrated propaganda campaigns that include the daily Two Minutes Hate.

As we face a troubled world in which populism, nationalism and fears for the future of democracy are on the rise, it is a book that remains as relevant today as when first published.

We wanted to encourage people in Bristol to read the book, discuss it with friends and family, and share reactions and responses online. In the Read section you’ll find a series of reader blogs as well as background material (individual links to a selection of these are below).

There was a session on ‘Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four Today’ with Jake Chapman, Sarah Ditum, Dorian Lynskey, Jean Seaton and Ece Temelkuran. (audio recording link) Within the festival’s film programme there was a screening of Nineteen Eighty Four directed by Michael Radford, starring John Hurt and Richard Burton. Following the film, Simon Perry, its producer, was in discussion with Andrew Kelly, director, Festival of Ideas. (audio recording link)

Image Credit: Detail of Cover illustration from Penguin edition of the novel that was distributed during Festival of the Future City.

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