On Nineteen Eighty-Four
Orwell and Our Future
Edited by Abbott Gleason, Jack Goldsmith, & Martha C. Nussbaum
George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is among the most widely read books in the world. For more than 50 years, it has been regarded as a morality tale for the possible future of modern society, a future involving nothing less than extinction of humanity itself. Does Nineteen Eighty-Four remain relevant in our new century? The editors of this book assembled a distinguished group of philosophers, literary specialists, political commentators, historians, and lawyers and asked them to take a wide-ranging and uninhibited look at that question. The editors deliberately avoided Orwell scholars in an effort to call forth a fresh and diverse range of responses to the major work of one of the most durable literary figures among twentieth-century English writers.
As Nineteen Eighty-Four protagonist Winston Smith has admirers on the right, in the center, and on the left, the contributors similarly represent a wide range of political, literary, and moral viewpoints. The Cold War that has so often been linked to Orwell's novel ended with more of a whimper than a bang, but most of the issues of concern to him remain alive in some form today: censorship, scientific surveillance, power worship, the autonomy of art, the meaning of democracy, relations between men and women, and many others. The contributors bring a variety of insightful and contemporary perspectives to bear on these questions.Abbott Gleason is Barnaby Conrad & Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History at Brown University. He is the author of Totalitarianism: The Inner History of the Cold War. Jack Goldsmith is Professor of Law at Harvard University. He is the author, with Eric Posner, of The Limits of International Law. Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Her books include Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge) and Hiding from Humanity (Princeton).