Just ahead of tonight's appearance with Tucker on the telly, here we go with Part Four of George Orwell's ever timelier tale of the panopticon state: Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Thank you for your kind comments about this latest audio serialization. Peter, a First Week Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from the English Home Counties, writes:
A thank you for this superb reading: it is worthy of such a classic novel.
Those interested might read Evelyn Waugh's letter to Orwell. It is appreciative and - of course - insightful. Waugh points out the lack of any religious sentiment which makes 1984 a permanent hell. Religion is there to release us - for Waugh, of course, it was (Roman Catholic) Christianity. Without the soul the Party wins forever.
(Waugh also states that Winston's rebelllion was false - the Brotherhood is a similar gang to the Party. The letter is on p302 of Waugh's Collected Letters.) Waugh visited Orwell while he was very ill in hospital. A kindness to a fellow writer.
Thank you for the kind words about the "superb reading", Peter. I gave it a bit of thought before settling on the tone. That's an interesting point of Waugh's. In Orwell's 1984, the churches survive but as mere buildings - just as the US Capitol survives as a mere building, but a perversion of everything that once went on in it. But the absence of faith is the point - hence, Orwell's choice of children's nursery rhyme that echoes half-remembered through his tale.
In tonight's episode, Winston Smith reflects on an aspect of his job - which is to rewrite the past to eliminate aspects that are inconvenient to the Party:
If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, IT NEVER HAPPENED--that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed--if all records told the same tale--then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it.
Tales for Our Time is now over three-and-a-half years old. So, if you've a friend who might be partial to our classic fiction outings, we have a special Gift Membership that, aside from audio yarns, also includes video poetry, live music and more. And I'll be doing a live-performance Tale for Our Time at sea on the next Mark Steyn Cruise - assuming that we're ever again permitted to sail.
Please join me tomorrow evening for Part Five of Nineteen Eighty-Four - and on TV with Tucker in an hour or so.