1984: A book that fits the times
07 Jun 2017

Additional reporting by Mary Meisenzahl

Following similar events in the USA and Australia, the Orwell Foundation sponsored the first start-to-finish live reading of George Orwell’s 1984 in the UK on 6 June.

The Orwell Foundation hosted the 12-hour event at the University College London’s  Senate House, the inspiration for the book’s The Ministry of Truth. The reading was also live-streamed to libraries and theatres across the UK. The foundation celebrates Orwell’s writing and reporting.

Tuesday’s event included 68 individuals who read from 1984 throughout the day. The readers were invited based on their embodiment of an aspect of Orwell’s values such as giving a voice to the powerless, making difficult freedom of speech decisions, having their writing banned and/or oftentimes taking a witty or controversial stance. These individuals were journalists, academics, public figures, artists members of the public and members of Orwell’s family.

While the participants read from 1984, actors performed parts of the book. Audience members described the experience as “topical,” “immersive” and “unforgettable”.

Director of the Orwell Foundation, Jean Seaton explained: “In the era of ‘post-truth politics’ and when every personal gesture is subject to commercial surveillance and commodified as data, the book has new resonance.”

Click here to watch the full 1984 reading.

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