I'm very proud that this website now offers more free content than at any time in our eighteen-year history. But we also provide some premium content especially for those who've signed up to be Mark Steyn Club members, and I'm delighted to say Tales for Our Time has become one of our most popular features over the last three-and-a-half years - and that this latest, far too timely tale is likewise proving popular. Veronica writes from Auckland, New Zealand:
Loving this latest tale, I haven't read Nineteen Eighty-Four since I was made to at school, it's much more interesting, and pertinent, the second time around.
Regarding the 'cover art', Girls' School must've been some read back in 1965. According to the blurb, it belongs to the 'sleaze' genre and involves not only the seduction of schoolgirls but maiden aunts as well! Probably very tame by today's 'standards'. No doubt it will never be a Tale for our Time but how about Forever Amber? It was one of the bestselling books of the 1940s and was written by Artie Shaw's sixth wife no less.
It is about 900 pages long though so that may count against it. Jane Austen's 'oeuvre' is much more concise by comparison :) But anyway, back to Winston...
I'm not sure I could handle reading nine hundred pages of Forever Amber, Veronica. I once asked Artie Shaw why he married Kathleen Winsor given that he'd excoriated a previous missus, Ava Gardner, for reading such garbage. He said, if you took into account their achievements, you'd never marry any woman.
And, on that note, welcome to Part Fifteen of George Orwell's visionary novel of the 24/7 surveillance state and a cowed and compliant citizenry terrified lest they be accused of thoughtcrime. In tonight's episode of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith has procured a modest love nest down among the proles:
Winston peeped out, secure in the protection of the muslin curtain. The June sun was still high in the sky, and in the sun-filled court below, a monstrous woman, solid as a Norman pillar, with brawny red forearms and a sacking apron strapped about her middle, was stumping to and fro between a washtub and a clothes line, pegging out a series of square white things which Winston recognized as babies' diapers. Whenever her mouth was not corked with clothes pegs she was singing in a powerful contralto:
It was only an 'opeless fancy.
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an' a word an' the dreams they stirred!
They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye!
The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound.
To judge from the state of popular song lyrics, someone took Orwell up on that "versificator" idea. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Fifteen of Nineteen Eighty-Four simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
If you've a friend who's a fan of classic literature and you want to give him or her a present with a difference, we hope you'll consider a one-year gift membership in The Mark Steyn Club. The lucky recipient will enjoy full access to our back catalogue of audio adventures and video poems - Conrad and Conan Doyle, Kipling and Kafka, and all the rest - which should keep you going until both the virus and the violence peter out, or at least until the Year Zero crowd has had all the books banned. For more details, see here.
Through lockdown, looting and 'lections, our nightly audio adventure goes on, so do join me back here tomorrow for Nineteen Eighty-Four Part Sixteen.