George Orwell’s dystopian cautionary tale, 1984, is topping the charts once more.
1984 has spent several days in the top ten on Amazon’s best seller list.
If you’re not familiar with Orwell’s totalitarian tale:
First published in 1949 and imagining a future authoritarian society, “1984” is widely regarded as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century. Its state, Oceania, employs a language called Newspeak (and words like “doubleplusgood”) to limit freedom of thought.
The book focuses in particular on the impact of omnipresent government surveillance and the state’s use of propaganda to enforce orthodoxy to an all-powerful leader, known as “Big Brother.”
The novel’s newfound popularity comes several days after White House press secretary Sean Spicer argued defiantly that Trump’s swearing-in Friday drew the largest-ever audience for an inauguration “period,” despite obvious photo and statistical evidence to the contrary.
Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway later defended that argument by saying Spicer’s false claims were actually “alternative facts.”
That phrasing was reminiscent of Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth,” which, he wrote, concerns itself with “lies.”
But is Trump’s presidency the actual reason 1984 is once again a chart-topper?
1984’s recent spike has been notable, but the novel has perpetually hovered on the bestseller list, featuring in the top 100 of Amazon’s most-ordered books for the last three years (in the last 24 hours, it’s jumped from around #91 to #56 on the list of books purchased on Amazon in 2017). For other works, though, their rise in popularity seems more directly linked to the emergence of Trump as a political leader. Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, a 1935 novel about the rise of an authoritarian fascist leader in the U.S., is currently the 26th most-purchased book on Amazon, and its spike on Google Trends corresponds with the U.S. presidential election on November 8.
If there’s anything I can appreciate about President Trump, it’s how his election has prompted progressives to re-explore classics like 1984 and even founding principles. Except for the second amendment.
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