George Orwell’s famous phrase, first published in 1949, still taps into concerns many have today. Orwell’s 1984, after all, depicts a society in which citizens’ lives are surveilled by the government and government technology. A classic example of dystopian fiction, Orwell’s novel was written in part as a response to the totalitarian governments he saw rise around him in the 1940s.
Orwell’s novel considers how a repressive regime might insert itself into its citizens’ lives and, ultimately, their thoughts. It also considers what a citizen’s responsibilities might be, as well as reflecting on the role of writing and history in a society, what it takes to be a leader, to be courageous, and to love another human being.
These broad questions are what the group One Book, Many Conversations will consider this week. One Book, Many Conversations believes that the “ability to talk with one another about the issues before us and to come together and share our many perspectives is a vital aspect of a thriving democratic society. Discussions grounded in a shared text offer valuable opportunities for genuine, open exchanges – giving everyone in the conversation a common point of reference for examining and articulating their ideas.”
To that end, between October 9th to October 15th conversations supported by trained moderators will happen in Wyoming and across the nation. Both in person and online, these nonpartisan discussions will use Orwell’s novel as a grounding point to consider these larger themes through lively dialogue, in the process hearing multiple points of view.
If you’re interested in some last-minute participation, click here to see if there’s a seminar in your area and/or to sign up to participate in an online discussion. Don’t have time to read the whole novel? No problem! Seminars will focus on the following sections (page numbers refer to the Signet Classics edition of the book):
Part I, sections I-II
(Signet Classics edition pp: 1-29)
Part I, section VII
(Signet Classics edition pp: 69-81)
Part 3, sections II-III
(Signet Classics edition pp. 239-274)
Part 3, section VI
(Signet Classics edition pp. 287-298)
In the meantime, visit www.manyconversations.org to learn more about the project, and to read perspectives on 1984 from librarians, chemists, and others. You can also follow discussions on One Book, Many Conversations’ Facebook page and Twitter account.