1984

Critical reception

When it was first published, Nineteen Eighty-Four received critical acclaim. V. S. Pritchett, reviewing the novel for the New Statesman stated: "I do not think I have ever read a novel more frightening and depressing; and yet, such are the originality, the suspense, the speed of writing and withering indignation that it is impossible to put the book down."[86] P. H. Newby, reviewing Nineteen Eighty-Four for The Listener magazine, described it as "the most arresting political novel written by an Englishman since Rex Warner's The Aerodrome."[87] Nineteen Eighty-Four was also praised by Bertrand Russell, E. M. Forster and Harold Nicolson.[87] On the other hand, Edward Shanks, reviewing Nineteen Eighty-Four for The Sunday Times, was dismissive; Shanks claimed Nineteen Eighty-Four "breaks all records for gloomy vaticination".[87] C. S. Lewis was also critical of the novel, claiming that the relationship of Julia and Winston, and especially the Party's view on sex, lacked credibility, and that the setting was "odious rather than tragic".[88]

On 5 November 2019, the BBC named Nineteen Eighty-Four on its list of the 100 most influential novels.[89]

According to Czesław Miłosz, an exile from Stalinist Poland, the book also made an impression behind the Iron Curtain. Writing in The Captive Mind, he stated "[a] few have become acquainted with Orwell's 1984; because it is both difficult to obtain and dangerous to possess, it is known only to certain members of the Inner Party. Orwell fascinates them through his insight into details they know well [...] Even those who know Orwell only by hearsay are amazed that a writer who never lived in Russia should have so keen a perception into its life."[90][91] Writer Christopher Hitchens has called this "one of the greatest compliments that one writer has ever bestowed upon another [...] Only one or two years after Orwell's death, in other words, his book about a secret book circulated only within the Inner Party was itself a secret book circulated only within the Inner Party."[92]


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