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Dystopia

1985 by Anthony Burgess

By Anthony Burgess

Inventive, chilling and darkly comedian, 1985 combines a devastating critique of Orwell's 1984 with a terrifying imaginative and prescient of the long run. As memorable as A Clockwork Orange, it truly is as strong and unsettling as something Burgess has written. First released in 1978, its concepts and ideas nonetheless carry especially true this day.

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Sample text

He reeked of gin. It seemed to breathe out of his skin in place of sweat, and one could have fancied that the tears welling from his eyes were pure gin. But though slightly drunk he was also suffering under some grief that was genuine and unbearable. In his childish way Winston grasped that some terrible thing, something that was beyond forgiveness and could never be remedied, had just happened. It also seemed to him that he knew what it was. Someone whom the old man loved, a little granddaughter, perhaps had been killed.

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.

He did not do so, however, because he knew that it was useless. Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed-would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper-the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever.

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