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Publisher Description

Brought to you by Penguin.

'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

(P) Penguin Audio 2021

Peter Capaldi
hr min
7 January
Penguin Books Ltd

Customer Reviews

vivienneor ,

A fantastic adaptation of this dystopian classic

My thanks to Penguin Random House U.K. Audio for a review copy via NetGalley of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ by George Orwell in exchange for an honest review. It is read by Peter Capaldi and has a running time of 12 hours, 22 minutes at 1x speed.

'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' 

This is the story of Winston Smith, who works in the
Record Department of the Ministry of Truth. His job is to skilfully rewrite records of the past to suit the current needs of the Party. Yet inwardly he rebels against this totalitarian society. In his desire for freedom he begins a secret love affair with a young woman, Julia. Yet how long can they remain undetected?

‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was first published in 1949 and has become a classic of dystopian political fiction. The repressive, totalitarian society of Oceania surveils its citizens through all-seeing tele-screens and the omnipresent figure of Big Brother. Language is controlled, the country is engaged in a never-ending war. Even private thought is suspect and compliance to the beliefs of the society are monitored by the sinister Thought Police.

This is a novel that I feel has aged well and is still highly relevant in the 21st Century with authoritarian regimes on the rise - complete with cult-like leaders. The modern world often feels Orwellian as we are bombarded by disinformation, ‘alternative facts’, claims of ‘Fake News’ and the ever-popular hate-mongering of rivals. Plus, the high level of surveillance through electronic means that was pure science fiction when the novel was written.

I read ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ ages ago and welcomed this opportunity to revisit via the audiobook format. That it was narrated by the velvet-voiced Peter Capaldi was an extra attraction. He brought his considerable acting skills to the reading to express Winston Smith’s idealism alongside the coldness of his adversary, O’Brien.

Being older and more politically aware I found that I was more conscious of these aspects of the narrative, especially the readings from the proscribed book by Goldstein that I had hardly noticed previously.

‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ remains one of the most important literary works of the 20th Century, a novel that continues to stimulate discussion and to hold a mirror up to society.

On a side note the cover image, ‘Self Portrait’ by Francis Bacon, on the 70th Anniversary edition is a disturbing, yet effective, image.

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