The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture



1984 by George Orwell; design by WH Chong (Text Publishing)

The dystopia described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel “1984” suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes. (Hey, Alexa, what’s up?) A world of endless war, where fear and hate are drummed up against foreigners, and movies show boatloads of refugees dying at sea. A world in which the government insists that reality is not “something objective, external, existing in its own right” — but rather, “whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.”

“1984” shot to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list this week, after Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Trump, described demonstrable falsehoods told by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer — regarding the size of inaugural crowds — as “alternative facts.” It was a phrase chillingly reminiscent, for many readers, of the Ministry of Truth’s efforts in “1984” at “reality control.” To Big Brother and the Party, Orwell wrote, “the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.” Regardless of the facts, “Big Brother is omnipotent” and “the Party is infallible.”

Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

As Nineteen Eighty-Four is suddenly more relevant than ever, I thought I would share a few of the recent covers for Orwell’s classic novel…

1984 by George Orwell; design by David Pearson (Penguin Classics)

1984 by George Orwell; design by Gray318 (Penguin)

1984 by George Orwell; illustration Daniel Mitchell (Penguin Random House Spain)

1984 by George Orwell; illustration by Marion Deuchars (Penguin Modern Classics)

1984 by George Orwell; design by Shepard Fairey (Penguin)



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  1. Great post – thank you!

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