Editor's note: This article is excerpted from a paper Professor Allen presented last year a a University of Michigan symposium on "The Future of 1984". It appears in toto, along with the other papers presented, in the collection of essays The Future of Nineteen Eighty-Four, published by the University of Michigan Press and edited by U-M Professor of English Ejner J. Jensen.
To answer fully why a novel for over a generation has remained embedded in the consciousness of persons in widely differing situaitons and of varied backgrounds and convictions, would be, perhaps, to say more about the society than the work of art. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, whatever its limitations, has amply demonstrated its power to strip bare many of the half-realized fears of persons inhabiting the Western world in our time, and of giving the terrors tangible shape. The book has transcended a merely literary influence. Just as many persons ignorant of Don Quixote speak of tilting at windmills, so too Big Brother is regularly denounced from public platforms and in newspaper columns by persons unable to account for the origin of the term.
Francis A. Allen,
Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Eclipse of Private Worlds,
Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/lqnotes/vol28/iss2/6