Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Fictional World of Archives

Original Novel Title: Nineteen Eighty-Four

Author: George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950)

Publisher: New York: Martin Secker & Warburg, 1949 (hardcover); various paperback editions, including Penguin Books, 1983.

All quotations are from the 1983 Penguin Books edition.

Winston Smith is the disenchanted hero of this bleak novel of a totalitarian state centered in London, England. London is "chief city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of Oceania" (p. 8). Smith works for the Ministry of Truth or Minitrue in Newspeak, essentially a gigantic media machine and archives whose workers constantly alter historic records to reflect new realities:

Winston wondered whether Comrade Tillotson was engaged in the same job as himself. It was perfectly possible. So tricky a piece of work would never be entrusted to a single person: on the other hand, turn it over to a committee would be to admit openly that an act of fabrication was taking place. Very likely as many as a dozen people were now working away on rival versions of what Big Brother had actually said. And presently some master brain in the Inner Party would select this version or that, would re-edit it and set in motion the complex processes of cross-referencing that would be required, and then the chosen lie would pass into the permanent records and become truth. (p. 43)

Feature Film Release Date (USA): September 1956

Edmond O'Brien plays Winston Smith.

  1. The Internet Movie Database

Feature Film Release Date: 1984

John Hurt stars as Winston Smith in this grueling and realistic adaptation.

  1. The Internet Movie Database

CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Suggested by various persons, 1997. Updated 1997.11.29.