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On Nineteen Eighty-Four: The Story of George Orwell’s Masterpiece

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  20 reviews
From the author of the definitive biography of George Orwell, a captivating account of the origin and enduring power of his landmark dystopian novel 

Since its publication nearly 70 years ago, George Orwells 1984 has been regarded as one of the most influential novels of the modern age. Politicians have testified to its influence on their intellectual identities, rock
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Harry N. Abrams (first published October 15th 2019)
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Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, 2019-read
It feels like "1984" is becoming more relevant by the day, so there is no denying that a comprehensive study of Orwell's dystopian classic in relation to our current state of affairs is a worthwhile endeavor - this book sets out to do just that, but does not quite reach its goal. Author D.J. Taylor has already published a biography about Orwell, so in large parts of this book, he also recapitulates the author's life and how his experiences influenced the making of "1984": Born in 1903, Orwell ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Since I teach and LOVE Orwell's 1984, this book immediately caught my attention. For all intents and purposes, this is a biography of a book as well as a biography of George Orwell somewhat. To know Orwell's mind and state of health before and during the writing of his final novel is absolutely amazing. I am fairly familiar with the world events that led to Orwell's writings; however, to have all the references in one book is such a great resource. I will be reading this one again to glean as ...more
George K. Ilsley
One has to be very interested in Orwell and the novel 1984 to get through this minutely-detailed short book. It was a bit too much for this casual reader.
However, I never knew that the novel 1984 was pushed by the right wing (and criticized by communists) because it was first seen as a critique of socialism. When I read the book I just saw it as a critique of authoritarianism of all stripes. The use of language and propaganda is also relevant and increasingly so. The short chapter at the end,
Linda Bond
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very few books are so important that they deserve a biography. In the case of 1984, however, it is totally understandable. Most of us experienced the cold war with this book in hand and on our minds. Just how far would a government go to control its people? What if we were told the information we believed as fake and we must be set straight by those in the know the government spokesmen? It sounded a bit far-fetched at the time of its release but as the years have gone by, more and more people ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
The story of a book like 1984 begins with the story of its author. On 1984 describes the life of Orwell, from birth to death, including many of the events that shaped his thoughts and writing. Orwells biography fills at least a half of this book. The remainder covers some analysis of the book and a history of the book, subsequent films and other media, and its impact on society. I found the author biography to be most interesting, to learn of Orwells previous writings and his time in Spain. ...more
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Tillman
Oct 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: history, new-tbp
Nice review at the WSJ: (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers)
Excerpt: "D.J. Taylors On Nineteen Eighty-Four is the brisker and more focused volume, and a better choice for those wishing to read about Orwells novel rather than around it. Mr. Taylor, a novelist, critic and biographer, more ably balances the cultural footprint of Nineteen Eighty-Four with the story of its writing. The definitive account of Orwells lifehis work
Since its publication 70 years ago, George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four has been regarded as one of the most significant novels of the modern age. It has influenced everyone from politicians to musicians, just as a White House spokesperson tells of alternative facts. The world we live in is often described as an Orwellian one, awash in inescapable surveillance and invasions of privacy.

D.J. Taylor is an award-winning author for his definitive biography of George Orwell. Now, in On Nineteen
Rebecca L.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Big brother is watching.

George Orwell's chilling dystopian novel entitled 1984 (an inversion of the year it was written), is an iconic book that has served as a warning for my generation. Orwell warns us that if power is left to run unchecked, the terrifying realm of the not-so-distant future he depicts is in his novel is an all to plausible possibility.

In a world where technology has become more and more invasive, Orwell's work is as pertinent now as it was when he originally penned his
George Orwell, the British author famous for coining the now ubiquitous terms, Big Brother is Watching, and The Cold War, in his novel, 1984, was a brilliant, but increasingly unhealthy and relatively unambitious young man, reports Author D.J. Taylor, in On Nineteen Eighty-four: Orwell, The Man and the Masterpiece.

We learn that Orwell channelled his early life experiences, that shaped both his political and personal views, into the decades enduring and generational defining creative masterwork
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, Abrams Press and Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

'On 1984' is a well researched and written look into the novel and the influences it was written under and of it's author, to a lesser extent. A "book biography" that gives deeper insight into this classic and why it is still so compelling today.

5 out of 5 stars. Recommended reading.
Pat Rolston
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is so much to learn from the classic 1984 publication by Orwell that is timeless. The opportunity to dive deeper into the authors life and his incredible work by means of this analysis is most enjoyable. There are many facets to Orwells life and the story of his best known work that serve to enlighten while entertaining. This is highly recommended for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of not just the past, but also the present. ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
With a resurgence in sales of the novel 1984, this book comes at a good time. I felt this book was on point but I found you would have needed to know more about George Orwell's other works besides Animal Farm. At points it was a bit more scholarly in nature than I would have liked but I thought it was very interesting to read how 1984 came into existence and circumstances that influenced the work. You don't get a glimpse into certain works very often and this was quite an interesting story.
Russell Contreras
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great biography of Orwells 1984 including an attempt to put the dystopian classic into its time and provide a literacy criticism of its legacy. It is not as detailed as Dorian Lynskeys The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984 but it tells the story of the novel and Orwells attempt to get to publish despite it killed him. Well researched and engaging. ...more
An interest read to a biography of a book

Hard to read a biography on 1984 and not get into politics. Rather a little less on its influence on today and modern music and more on its time and what influenced the book.
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book was a bit of a history journey about a popular book of our times. A true insight for modern times we live in today. 1984 by George Orwell . This book was a Goodreads giveaway.
Dewey 823.912
Dianne Oliver
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Our man Orwell is not only a man of talent, but of resolute grit. Writing 1984 in the throes of tb was just one of several moving scenes in a life of difficulty that are highlighted in this book.
Meg (fairy.bookmother)
How do you write a book about 1984 and include stuff about Trump but literally no mention of Assange, Snowden, Wikileaks, or anything else?
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to David by: Review in WSJ
Quite interesting and timely, given current political climate in USA.

Taylor's approach is even-handed. He recognizes that both the American left wing and the right wing can find some reasons to claim Orwell (although I'd say that clearly the advantage goes to the conservatives, even though Taylor is no fan of Trump).

Lots of material and sources here to inspire further reading . . . as in "Assignment in Utopia," by Eugene Lyons, which opened Orwell's eyes to the reality of 1930s Russia (and
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David John Taylor (born 1960) is a critic, novelist and biographer. After attending school in Norwich, he read Modern History at St John's College, Oxford, and has received the 2003 Whitbread Biography Award for his life of George Orwell.

He lives in Norwich and contributes to The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman and The Spectator among other publications.

He is married

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