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Tomorrow, the 21st of January is the last day in which the work of George Orwell is copyright protected.


After this date, it will be in Public Domain for all to use.



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RE: Tomorrow, the 21st of January is the last day in which the work of George Orwell is copyright protected.

Chapter 1

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the
vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions,
though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering
along with him.

The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a
coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall.
It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a
man of about forty-five, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome
features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even
at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric
current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive
in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston,
who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went
slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the
lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was
one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about
when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had
something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an
oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface
of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank
somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument
(the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of
shutting it off completely. He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail
figure, the meagreness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls
which were the uniform of the party. His hair was very fair, his face
naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor
blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.

Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world looked cold. Down in
the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into
spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there
seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered
everywhere. The black-moustachio'd face gazed down from every commanding
corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER
IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into
Winston's own. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner,
flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the
single word INGSOC. In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between
the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again
with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people's
windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police

Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away
about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The
telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston
made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it,
moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal
plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course
no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How
often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual
wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all
the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted
to. You had to live--did live, from habit that became instinct--in the
assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in
darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he
well knew, even a back can be revealing. A kilometre away the Ministry of
Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape.
This, he thought with a sort of vague distaste--this was London, chief
city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of
Oceania. He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him
whether London had always been quite like this. Were there always these
vistas of rotting nineteenth-century houses, their sides shored up with
baulks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs
with corrugated iron, their crazy garden walls sagging in all directions?
And the bombed sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the
willow-herb straggled over the heaps of rubble; and the places where the
bombs had cleared a larger patch and there had sprung up sordid colonies
of wooden dwellings like chicken-houses? But it was no use, he could not
remember: nothing remained of his childhood except a series of bright-lit
tableaux occurring against no background and mostly unintelligible.

The Ministry of Truth--Minitrue, in Newspeak [Newspeak was the official
language of Oceania. For an account of its structure and etymology see
Appendix.]--was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It
was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring
up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston
stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in
elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:


The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above
ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London
there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So
completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof
of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They
were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus
of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself
with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of
Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which
maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible
for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv,
and Miniplenty.

The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows
in it at all. Winston had never been inside the Ministry of Love, nor
within half a kilometre of it. It was a place impossible to enter except
on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of
barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests. Even
the streets leading up to its outer barriers were roamed by gorilla-faced
guards in black uniforms, armed with jointed truncheons.

Winston turned round abruptly. He had set his features into the
expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing
the telescreen. He crossed the room into the tiny kitchen. By leaving
the Ministry at this time of day he had sacrificed his lunch in the
canteen, and he was aware that there was no food in the kitchen except
a hunk of dark-coloured bread which had got to be saved for tomorrow's
breakfast. He took down from the shelf a bottle of colourless liquid
with a plain white label marked VICTORY GIN. It gave off a sickly, oily
smell, as of Chinese rice-spirit. Winston poured out nearly a teacupful,
nerved himself for a shock, and gulped it down like a dose of medicine.

Instantly his face turned scarlet and the water ran out of his eyes. The
stuff was like nitric acid, and moreover, in swallowing it one had the
sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club. The
next moment, however, the burning in his belly died down and the world
began to look more cheerful. He took a cigarette from a crumpled packet
marked VICTORY CIGARETTES and incautiously held it upright, whereupon the
tobacco fell out on to the floor. With the next he was more successful.
He went back to the living-room and sat down at a small table that stood
to the left of the telescreen. From the table drawer he took out a
penholder, a bottle of ink, and a thick, quarto-sized blank book with a
red back and a marbled cover.

For some reason the telescreen in the living-room was in an unusual
position. Instead of being placed, as was normal, in the end wall, where
it could command the whole room, it was in the longer wall, opposite the
window. To one side of it there was a shallow alcove in which Winston
was now sitting, and which, when the flats were built, had probably been
intended to hold bookshelves. By sitting in the alcove, and keeping well
back, Winston was able to remain outside the range of the telescreen, so
far as sight went. He could be heard, of course, but so long as he stayed
in his present position he could not be seen. It was partly the unusual
geography of the room that had suggested to him the thing that he was now
about to do.

But it had also been suggested by the book that he had just taken out of
the drawer. It was a peculiarly beautiful book. Its smooth creamy paper,
a little yellowed by age, was of a kind that had not been manufactured for
at least forty years past. He could guess, however, that the book was much
older than that. He had seen it lying in the window of a frowsy little
junk-shop in a slummy quarter of the town (just what quarter he did not
now remember) and had been stricken immediately by an overwhelming desire
to possess it. Party members were supposed not to go into ordinary shops
('dealing on the free market', it was called), but the rule was not
strictly kept, because there were various things, such as shoelaces and
razor blades, which it was impossible to get hold of in any other way. He
had given a quick glance up and down the street and then had slipped inside
and bought the book for two dollars fifty. At the time he was not conscious
of wanting it for any particular purpose. He had carried it guiltily home
in his briefcase. Even with nothing written in it, it was a compromising

The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal
(nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected
it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least
by twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp. Winston fitted a nib into
the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off. The pen was an archaic
instrument, seldom used even for signatures, and he had procured one,
furtively and with some difficulty, simply because of a feeling that the
beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead
of being scratched with an ink-pencil. Actually he was not used to writing
by hand. Apart from very short notes, it was usual to dictate everything
into the speak-write which was of course impossible for his present
purpose. He dipped the pen into the ink and then faltered for just a
second. A tremor had gone through his bowels. To mark the paper was the
decisive act. In small clumsy letters he wrote:

   April 4th, 1984.

He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him. To
begin with, he did not know with any certainty that this was 1984. It
must be round about that date, since he was fairly sure that his age was
thirty-nine, and he believed that he had been born in 1944 or 1945; but
it was never possible nowadays to pin down any date within a year or two.

For whom, it suddenly occurred to him to wonder, was he writing this diary?
For the future, for the unborn. His mind hovered for a moment round the
doubtful date on the page, and then fetched up with a bump against the
Newspeak word DOUBLETHINK. For the first time the magnitude of what he had
undertaken came home to him. How could you communicate with the future? It
was of its nature impossible. Either the future would resemble the present,
in which case it would not listen to him: or it would be different from it,
and his predicament would be meaningless.

For some time he sat gazing stupidly at the paper. The telescreen had
changed over to strident military music. It was curious that he seemed
not merely to have lost the power of expressing himself, but even to have
forgotten what it was that he had originally intended to say. For weeks
past he had been making ready for this moment, and it had never crossed
his mind that anything would be needed except courage. The actual writing
would be easy. All he had to do was to transfer to paper the interminable
restless monologue that had been running inside his head, literally for
years. At this moment, however, even the monologue had dried up. Moreover
his varicose ulcer had begun itching unbearably. He dared not scratch it,
because if he did so it always became inflamed. The seconds were ticking
by. He was conscious of nothing except the blankness of the page in front
of him, the itching of the skin above his ankle, the blaring of the music,
and a slight booziness caused by the gin.

Suddenly he began writing in sheer panic, only imperfectly aware of what
he was setting down. His small but childish handwriting straggled up and
down the page, shedding first its capital letters and finally even its
full stops:

   April 4th, 1984. Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good
one of a ship full of refugees being bombed somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away
with a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along in the
water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gunsights,
then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as
suddenly as though the holes had let in the water, audience shouting with
laughter when he sank. then you saw a lifeboat full of children with a
helicopter hovering over it. there was a middle-aged woman might have been
a jewess sitting up in the bow with a little boy about three years old in
her arms. little boy screaming with fright and hiding his head between her
breasts as if he was trying to burrow right into her and the woman putting
her arms round him and comforting him although she was blue with fright
herself, all the time covering him up as much as possible as if she thought
her arms could keep the bullets off him. then the helicopter planted a 20
kilo bomb in among them terrific flash and the boat went all to matchwood.
then there was a wonderful shot of a child's arm going up up up right up
into the air a helicopter with a camera in its nose must have followed it
up and there was a lot of applause from the party seats but a woman down in
the prole part of the house suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting
they didnt oughter of showed it not in front of kids they didnt it aint
right not in front of kids it aint until the police turned her turned her
out i dont suppose anything happened to her nobody cares what the proles
say typical prole reaction they never----

Winston stopped writing, partly because he was suffering from cramp. He did
not know what had made him pour out this stream of rubbish. But the curious
thing was that while he was doing so a totally different memory had
clarified itself in his mind, to the point where he almost felt equal to
writing it down. It was, he now realized, because of this other incident
that he had suddenly decided to come home and begin the diary today.

It had happened that morning at the Ministry, if anything so nebulous could
be said to happen.

It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, where Winston
worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them
in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for
the Two Minutes Hate. Winston was just taking his place in one of the
middle rows when two people whom he knew by sight, but had never spoken
to, came unexpectedly into the room. One of them was a girl whom he often
passed in the corridors. He did not know her name, but he knew that she
worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably--since he had sometimes seen
her with oily hands and carrying a spanner--she had some mechanical job
on one of the novel-writing machines. She was a bold-looking girl, of
about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic
movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was
wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to
bring out the shapeliness of her hips. Winston had disliked her from the
very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was because of the
atmosphere of hockey-fields and cold baths and community hikes and general
clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about with her. He disliked
nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always
the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted
adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and
nosers-out of unorthodoxy. But this particular girl gave him the impression
of being more dangerous than most. Once when they passed in the corridor
she gave him a quick sidelong glance which seemed to pierce right into
him and for a moment had filled him with black terror. The idea had even
crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Thought Police. That,
it was true, was very unlikely. Still, he continued to feel a peculiar
uneasiness, which had fear mixed up in it as well as hostility, whenever
she was anywhere near him.

The other person was a man named O'Brien, a member of the Inner Party and
holder of some post so important and remote that Winston had only a dim
idea of its nature. A momentary hush passed over the group of people
round the chairs as they saw the black overalls of an Inner Party member
approaching. O'Brien was a large, burly man with a thick neck and a coarse,
humorous, brutal face. In spite of his formidable appearance he had a
certain charm of manner. He had a trick of resettling his spectacles on
his nose which was curiously disarming--in some indefinable way, curiously
civilized. It was a gesture which, if anyone had still thought in such
terms, might have recalled an eighteenth-century nobleman offering his
snuffbox. Winston had seen O'Brien perhaps a dozen times in almost as many
years. He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because he was intrigued
by the contrast between O'Brien's urbane manner and his prize-fighter's
physique. Much more it was because of a secretly held belief--or perhaps
not even a belief, merely a hope--that O'Brien's political orthodoxy was
not perfect. Something in his face suggested it irresistibly. And again,
perhaps it was not even unorthodoxy that was written in his face, but
simply intelligence. But at any rate he had the appearance of being a
person that you could talk to if somehow you could cheat the telescreen and
get him alone. Winston had never made the smallest effort to verify this
guess: indeed, there was no way of doing so. At this moment O'Brien glanced
at his wrist-watch, saw that it was nearly eleven hundred, and evidently
decided to stay in the Records Department until the Two Minutes Hate was
over. He took a chair in the same row as Winston, a couple of places away.
A small, sandy-haired woman who worked in the next cubicle to Winston was
between them. The girl with dark hair was sitting immediately behind.

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine
running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room.
It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the
back of one's neck. The Hate had started.

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had
flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the
audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and
disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago
(how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading
figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and
then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned
to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes
of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in
which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor,
the earliest defiler of the Party's purity. All subsequent crimes against
the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations,
sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still
alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea,
under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even--so it was
occasionally rumoured--in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.

Winston's diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of
Goldstein without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a lean Jewish face,
with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard--a
clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of senile
silliness in the long thin nose, near the end of which a pair of spectacles
was perched. It resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a
sheep-like quality. Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack
upon the doctrines of the Party--an attack so exaggerated and perverse that
a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible
enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less
level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big
Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding
the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom
of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought,
he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed--and all
this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the
habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak
words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally
use in real life. And all the while, lest one should be in any doubt as to
the reality which Goldstein's specious claptrap covered, behind his head on
the telescreen there marched the endless columns of the Eurasian army--row
after row of solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam
up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others
exactly similar. The dull rhythmic tramp of the soldiers' boots formed the
background to Goldstein's bleating voice.

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable
exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room.
The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power
of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides,
the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger
automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia
or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was
generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although
Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a
thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers,
in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the
general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were--in spite of all this,
his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes
waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs
acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police.
He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of
conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State. The Brotherhood, its
name was supposed to be. There were also whispered stories of a terrible
book, a compendium of all the heresies, of which Goldstein was the author
and which circulated clandestinely here and there. It was a book without a
title. People referred to it, if at all, simply as THE BOOK. But one knew
of such things only through vague rumours. Neither the Brotherhood nor
THE BOOK was a subject that any ordinary Party member would mention if
there was a way of avoiding it.

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and
down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort
to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little
sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and
shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed.
He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and
quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The
dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out 'Swine! Swine! Swine!'
and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the
screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off; the voice continued
inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the
others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The
horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to
act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining
in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous
ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash
faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of
people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into
a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an
abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to
another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston's hatred
was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against
Big Brother, the Party, and the Thought Police; and at such moments his
heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian
of truth and sanity in a world of lies. And yet the very next instant he
was at one with the people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein
seemed to him to be true. At those moments his secret loathing of Big
Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed to tower up, an
invincible, fearless protector, standing like a rock against the hordes
of Asia, and Goldstein, in spite of his isolation, his helplessness, and
the doubt that hung about his very existence, seemed like some sinister
enchanter, capable by the mere power of his voice of wrecking the structure
of civilization.

It was even possible, at moments, to switch one's hatred this way or that
by a voluntary act. Suddenly, by the sort of violent effort with which one
wrenches one's head away from the pillow in a nightmare, Winston succeeded
in transferring his hatred from the face on the screen to the dark-haired
girl behind him. Vivid, beautiful hallucinations flashed through his mind.
He would flog her to death with a rubber truncheon. He would tie her naked
to a stake and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian. He would
ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax. Better than before,
moreover, he realized WHY it was that he hated her. He hated her because
she was young and pretty and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with
her and would never do so, because round her sweet supple waist, which
seemed to ask you to encircle it with your arm, there was only the odious
scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity.

The Hate rose to its climax. The voice of Goldstein had become an actual
sheep's bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep.
Then the sheep-face melted into the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed
to be advancing, huge and terrible, his sub-machine gun roaring, and
seeming to spring out of the surface of the screen, so that some of the
people in the front row actually flinched backwards in their seats. But
in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the
hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother, black-haired,
black-moustachio'd, full of power and mysterious calm, and so vast that
it almost filled up the screen. Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying.
It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are
uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but
restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big
Brother faded away again, and instead the three slogans of the Party stood
out in bold capitals:


But the face of Big Brother seemed to persist for several seconds on the
screen, as though the impact that it had made on everyone's eyeballs was
too vivid to wear off immediately. The little sandy-haired woman had flung
herself forward over the back of the chair in front of her. With a
tremulous murmur that sounded like 'My Saviour!' she extended her arms
towards the screen. Then she buried her face in her hands. It was apparent
that she was uttering a prayer.

At this moment the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow,
rhythmical chant of 'B-B!...B-B!'--over and over again, very slowly, with a
long pause between the first 'B' and the second--a heavy, murmurous sound,
somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the
stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms. For perhaps as much as
thirty seconds they kept it up. It was a refrain that was often heard in
moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom
and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis,
a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.
Winston's entrails seemed to grow cold. In the Two Minutes Hate he could
not help sharing in the general delirium, but this sub-human chanting of
'B-B!...B-B!' always filled him with horror. Of course he chanted with the
rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to
control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive
reaction. But there was a space of a couple of seconds during which the
expression of his eyes might conceivably have betrayed him. And it was
exactly at this moment that the significant thing happened--if, indeed,
it did happen.

Momentarily he caught O'Brien's eye. O'Brien had stood up. He had taken
off his spectacles and was in the act of resettling them on his nose with
his characteristic gesture. But there was a fraction of a second when
their eyes met, and for as long as it took to happen Winston knew--yes, he
KNEW!--that O'Brien was thinking the same thing as himself. An unmistakable
message had passed. It was as though their two minds had opened and the
thoughts were flowing from one into the other through their eyes. 'I am
with you,' O'Brien seemed to be saying to him. 'I know precisely what you
are feeling. I know all about your contempt, your hatred, your disgust.
But don't worry, I am on your side!' And then the flash of intelligence
was gone, and O'Brien's face was as inscrutable as everybody else's.

That was all, and he was already uncertain whether it had happened. Such
incidents never had any sequel. All that they did was to keep alive in him
the belief, or hope, that others besides himself were the enemies of the
Party. Perhaps the rumours of vast underground conspiracies were true after
all--perhaps the Brotherhood really existed! It was impossible, in spite
of the endless arrests and confessions and executions, to be sure that the
Brotherhood was not simply a myth. Some days he believed in it, some days
not. There was no evidence, only fleeting glimpses that might mean anything
or nothing: snatches of overheard conversation, faint scribbles on lavatory
walls--once, even, when two strangers met, a small movement of the hand
which had looked as though it might be a signal of recognition. It was all
guesswork: very likely he had imagined everything. He had gone back to his
cubicle without looking at O'Brien again. The idea of following up their
momentary contact hardly crossed his mind. It would have been inconceivably
dangerous even if he had known how to set about doing it. For a second, two
seconds, they had exchanged an equivocal glance, and that was the end of
the story. But even that was a memorable event, in the locked loneliness in
which one had to live.

Winston roused himself and sat up straighter. He let out a belch. The gin
was rising from his stomach.

His eyes re-focused on the page. He discovered that while he sat helplessly
musing he had also been writing, as though by automatic action. And it was
no longer the same cramped, awkward handwriting as before. His pen had slid
voluptuously over the smooth paper, printing in large neat capitals--


over and over again, filling half a page.

He could not help feeling a twinge of panic. It was absurd, since the
writing of those particular words was not more dangerous than the initial
act of opening the diary, but for a moment he was tempted to tear out the
spoiled pages and abandon the enterprise altogether.

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 for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for
years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

It was always at night--the arrests invariably happened at night. The
sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking your shoulder, the lights
glaring in your eyes, the ring of hard faces round the bed. In the vast
majority of cases there was no trial, no report of the arrest. People
simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the
registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your
one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished,
annihilated: VAPORIZED was the usual word.

For a moment he was seized by a kind of hysteria. He began writing in a
hurried untidy scrawl:

   theyll shoot me i don't care theyll shoot me in the back of the neck i
dont care down with big brother they always shoot you in the back of the
neck i dont care down with big brother----

He sat back in his chair, slightly ashamed of himself, and laid down
the pen. The next moment he started violently. There was a knocking at
the door.

Already! He sat as still as a mouse, in the futile hope that whoever it was
might go away after a single attempt. But no, the knocking was repeated.
The worst thing of all would be to delay. His heart was thumping like a
drum, but his face, from long habit, was probably expressionless. He got
up and moved heavily towards the door.


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Chapter 2

As he put his hand to the door-knob Winston saw that he had left the
diary open on the table. DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER was written all over it,
in letters almost big enough to be legible across the room. It was an
inconceivably stupid thing to have done. But, he realized, even in his
panic he had not wanted to smudge the creamy paper by shutting the book
while the ink was wet.

He drew in his breath and opened the door. Instantly a warm wave of relief
flowed through him. A colourless, crushed-looking woman, with wispy hair
and a lined face, was standing outside.

'Oh, comrade,' she began in a dreary, whining sort of voice, 'I thought I
heard you come in. Do you think you could come across and have a look at
our kitchen sink? It's got blocked up and----'

It was Mrs Parsons, the wife of a neighbour on the same floor. ('Mrs' was
a word somewhat discountenanced by the Party--you were supposed to call
everyone 'comrade'--but with some women one used it instinctively.) She was
a woman of about thirty, but looking much older. One had the impression
that there was dust in the creases of her face. Winston followed her down
the passage. These amateur repair jobs were an almost daily irritation.
Victory Mansions were old flats, built in 1930 or thereabouts, and were
falling to pieces. The plaster flaked constantly from ceilings and walls,
the pipes burst in every hard frost, the roof leaked whenever there was
snow, the heating system was usually running at half steam when it was not
closed down altogether from motives of economy. Repairs, except what you
could do for yourself, had to be sanctioned by remote committees which
were liable to hold up even the mending of a window-pane for two years.

'Of course it's only because Tom isn't home,' said Mrs Parsons vaguely.

The Parsons' flat was bigger than Winston's, and dingy in a different
way. Everything had a battered, trampled-on look, as though the
place had just been visited by some large violent animal. Games
impedimenta--hockey-sticks, boxing-gloves, a burst football, a pair of
sweaty shorts turned inside out--lay all over the floor, and on the
table there was a litter of dirty dishes and dog-eared exercise-books.
On the walls were scarlet banners of the Youth League and the Spies, and
a full-sized poster of Big Brother. There was the usual boiled-cabbage
smell, common to the whole building, but it was shot through by a sharper
reek of sweat, which--one knew this at the first sniff, though it was
hard to say how--was the sweat of some person not present at the moment.
In another room someone with a comb and a piece of toilet paper was
trying to keep tune with the military music which was still issuing
from the telescreen.

'It's the children,' said Mrs Parsons, casting a half-apprehensive glance
at the door. 'They haven't been out today. And of course----'

She had a habit of breaking off her sentences in the middle. The kitchen
sink was full nearly to the brim with filthy greenish water which smelt
worse than ever of cabbage. Winston knelt down and examined the angle-joint
of the pipe. He hated using his hands, and he hated bending down, which was
always liable to start him coughing. Mrs Parsons looked on helplessly.

'Of course if Tom was home he'd put it right in a moment,' she said.
'He loves anything like that. He's ever so good with his hands, Tom is.'

Parsons was Winston's fellow-employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was
a fattish but active man of paralysing stupidity, a mass of imbecile
enthusiasms--one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on
whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party
depended. At thirty-five he had just been unwillingly evicted from the
Youth League, and before graduating into the Youth League he had managed to
stay on in the Spies for a year beyond the statutory age. At the Ministry
he was employed in some subordinate post for which intelligence was not
required, but on the other hand he was a leading figure on the Sports
Committee and all the other committees engaged in organizing community
hikes, spontaneous demonstrations, savings campaigns, and voluntary
activities generally. He would inform you with quiet pride, between whiffs
of his pipe, that he had put in an appearance at the Community Centre every
evening for the past four years. An overpowering smell of sweat, a sort of
unconscious testimony to the strenuousness of his life, followed him about
wherever he went, and even remained behind him after he had gone.

'Have you got a spanner?' said Winston, fiddling with the nut on the

'A spanner,' said Mrs Parsons, immediately becoming invertebrate. 'I don't
know, I'm sure. Perhaps the children----'

There was a trampling of boots and another blast on the comb as the
children charged into the living-room. Mrs Parsons brought the spanner.
Winston let out the water and disgustedly removed the clot of human hair
that had blocked up the pipe. He cleaned his fingers as best he could in
the cold water from the tap and went back into the other room.

'Up with your hands!' yelled a savage voice.

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table
and was menacing him with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister,
about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood.
Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts, and red
neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the Spies. Winston raised his hands
above his head, but with an uneasy feeling, so vicious was the boy's
demeanour, that it was not altogether a game.

'You're a traitor!' yelled the boy. 'You're a thought-criminal! You're a
Eurasian spy! I'll shoot you, I'll vaporize you, I'll send you to the salt

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting 'Traitor!' and
'Thought-criminal!' the little girl imitating her brother in every
movement. It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of
tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of
calculating ferocity in the boy's eye, a quite evident desire to hit or
kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so.
It was a good job it was not a real pistol he was holding, Winston thought.

Mrs Parsons' eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the children, and back
again. In the better light of the living-room he noticed with interest
that there actually was dust in the creases of her face.

'They do get so noisy,' she said. 'They're disappointed because they
couldn't go to see the hanging, that's what it is. I'm too busy to take
them. and Tom won't be back from work in time.'

'Why can't we go and see the hanging?' roared the boy in his huge voice.

'Want to see the hanging! Want to see the hanging!' chanted the little
girl, still capering round.

Some Eurasian prisoners, guilty of war crimes, were to be hanged in the
Park that evening, Winston remembered. This happened about once a month,
and was a popular spectacle. Children always clamoured to be taken to see
it. He took his leave of Mrs Parsons and made for the door. But he had not
gone six steps down the passage when something hit the back of his neck an
agonizingly painful blow. It was as though a red-hot wire had been jabbed
into him. He spun round just in time to see Mrs Parsons dragging her son
back into the doorway while the boy pocketed a catapult.

'Goldstein!' bellowed the boy as the door closed on him. But what most
struck Winston was the look of helpless fright on the woman's greyish face.

Back in the flat he stepped quickly past the telescreen and sat down at the
table again, still rubbing his neck. The music from the telescreen had
stopped. Instead, a clipped military voice was reading out, with a sort of
brutal relish, a description of the armaments of the new Floating Fortress
which had just been anchored between Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of
terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night
and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. Nearly all children nowadays were
horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as
the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages,
and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the
discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and
everything connected with it. The songs, the processions, the banners, the
hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the yelling of slogans, the worship
of Big Brother--it was all a sort of glorious game to them. All their
ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against
foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal
for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with
good reason, for hardly a week passed in which 'The Times' did not carry
a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak--'child hero'
was the phrase generally used--had overheard some compromising remark
and denounced its parents to the Thought Police.

The sting of the catapult bullet had worn off. He picked up his pen
half-heartedly, wondering whether he could find something more to write
in the diary. Suddenly he began thinking of O'Brien again.

Years ago--how long was it? Seven years it must be--he had dreamed that he
was walking through a pitch-dark room. And someone sitting to one side of
him had said as he passed: 'We shall meet in the place where there is no
darkness.' It was said very quietly, almost casually--a statement, not a
command. He had walked on without pausing. What was curious was that at the
time, in the dream, the words had not made much impression on him. It was
only later and by degrees that they had seemed to take on significance. He
could not now remember whether it was before or after having the dream that
he had seen O'Brien for the first time, nor could he remember when he had
first identified the voice as O'Brien's. But at any rate the identification
existed. It was O'Brien who had spoken to him out of the dark.

Winston had never been able to feel sure--even after this morning's flash
of the eyes it was still impossible to be sure whether O'Brien was a friend
or an enemy. Nor did it even seem to matter greatly. There was a link of
understanding between them, more important than affection or partisanship.
'We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness,' he had said.
Winston did not know what it meant, only that in some way or another it
would come true.

The voice from the telescreen paused. A trumpet call, clear and beautiful,
floated into the stagnant air. The voice continued raspingly:

'Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived
from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious
victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may
well bring the war within measurable distance of its end. Here is the

Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory
description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures
of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week,
the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty.

Winston belched again. The gin was wearing off, leaving a deflated feeling.
The telescreen--perhaps to celebrate the victory, perhaps to drown the
memory of the lost chocolate--crashed into 'Oceania, 'tis for thee'. You
were supposed to stand to attention. However, in his present position he
was invisible.

'Oceania, 'tis for thee' gave way to lighter music. Winston walked over to
the window, keeping his back to the telescreen. The day was still cold and
clear. Somewhere far away a rocket bomb exploded with a dull, reverberating
roar. About twenty or thirty of them a week were falling on London at

Down in the street the wind flapped the torn poster to and fro, and the
word INGSOC fitfully appeared and vanished. Ingsoc. The sacred principles
of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as
though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a
monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past
was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single
human creature now living was on his side? And what way of knowing that the
dominion of the Party would not endure FOR EVER? Like an answer, the three
slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back to him:


He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There, too, in tiny
clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of
the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coin the eyes pursued you.
On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on
the wrappings of a cigarette packet--everywhere. Always the eyes watching
you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating,
indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed--no escape. Nothing was your
own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.

The sun had shifted round, and the myriad windows of the Ministry of Truth,
with the light no longer shining on them, looked grim as the loopholes of a
fortress. His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too
strong, it could not be stormed. A thousand rocket bombs would not batter
it down. He wondered again for whom he was writing the diary. For the
future, for the past--for an age that might be imaginary. And in front of
him there lay not death but annihilation. The diary would be reduced to
ashes and himself to vapour. Only the Thought Police would read what he had
written, before they wiped it out of existence and out of memory. How could
you make appeal to the future when not a trace of you, not even an
anonymous word scribbled on a piece of paper, could physically survive?

The telescreen struck fourteen. He must leave in ten minutes. He had to be
back at work by fourteen-thirty.

Curiously, the chiming of the hour seemed to have put new heart into him.
He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so
long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken.
It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on
the human heritage. He went back to the table, dipped his pen, and wrote:

   To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men
are different from one another and do not live alone--to a time when truth
exists and what is done cannot be undone:
   From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of
Big Brother, from the age of doublethink--greetings!

He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now,
when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken
the decisive step. The consequences of every act are included in the act
itself. He wrote:

   Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.

Now he had recognized himself as a dead man it became important to stay
alive as long as possible. Two fingers of his right hand were inkstained.
It was exactly the kind of detail that might betray you. Some nosing zealot
in the Ministry (a woman, probably: someone like the little sandy-haired
woman or the dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department) might start
wondering why he had been writing during the lunch interval, why he had
used an old-fashioned pen, WHAT he had been writing--and then drop a hint
in the appropriate quarter. He went to the bathroom and carefully scrubbed
the ink away with the gritty dark-brown soap which rasped your skin like
sandpaper and was therefore well adapted for this purpose.

He put the diary away in the drawer. It was quite useless to think of
hiding it, but he could at least make sure whether or not its existence had
been discovered. A hair laid across the page-ends was too obvious. With the
tip of his finger he picked up an identifiable grain of whitish dust and
deposited it on the corner of the cover, where it was bound to be shaken
off if the book was moved.


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RE: Tomorrow, the 21st of January is the last day in which the work of George Orwell is copyright protected.

nytram wrote:




 Can I move this post to the politics board.


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Tomorrow, the 21st of January is the last day in which the work of George Orwell is copyright protected.

Do it to Julia...





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KidCharlieMane wrote:

Do it to Julia...





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