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Life in 1984

April 4, 2011

In George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four, the protagonist Winston Smith, starts his secret diary on 4 April in what may be 1984. Hence today’s post and a special download.

Legendary magazine Life devoted much of its 4 July 1949 edition to Orwell’s new book. The article featured original cartoons by New Yorker illustrator Abner Dean which seem very curious to our eyes (a bit like Donald McGill illustrating Newsweek’s Libya Special – Nineteen-Eighty-Four wasn’t yet “Nineteen-Eighty-Four”. The tone of the article and that issue’s editorial is typical of Life. The magazine is remembered as the classic organ of concerned photojournalism, but the politics of the photographers were sometimes at odds with the leader writers. In this issue they predict:

“Many readers in England [that’s near London–DD] will find that his book reinforces a growing suspicion that some of the British Laborites revel in austerity and would love to preserve it… “

They couldn’t let the opportunity of using the book to bash supporters of an American welfare system:

“Some of the most dedicated of the U.S. proponents of the welfare state… have appeared almost as remote from their followers, and as determined to remake mankind into a new pattern regardless of man’s own wishes, as Oceania’s Big Brother”.

Orwell was not best pleased with the angle his American publishers were trying to put on the book. He wrote to them stating; “My recent novel is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter)…”

The ever versatile Life printed it’s editorial next to a full page photo of US tennis player Gussy Moran, who had ‘surprised’ Wimbledon by wearing lace panties.

Anyway thanks to the magic of eBay (where I bought it) and Google Books (where I borrowed the scans from) here is a downloadable pdf of Life in Orwell’s 1984.

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