1949: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Author/Editor: George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four tells the story of a totalitarian society where people live in constant fear of monitoring and persecution by the omniscient ruling party. The main character dares to have a love affair, which breaks several party rules, and is then systematically tortured to accept Big Brother’s control. Themes of censorship, individuality, and surveillance are explored and many parallels are drawn to the Soviet Union’s embrace of Communism in the post-war period.
The influences of Nineteen Eighty-Four on popular culture are many, most notably on language. Terms such as “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” are now part of the vernacular and the popular show Big Brother, which features a group of people under constant surveillance, is seen world-wide.