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Cambridge University Library

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The Really Popular Book Club is the reading group hosted by Cambridge University Libraries. Everyone is invited to join us and our special guests to discuss a really popular book, one that we all know and perhaps or perhaps not love.

Join us for this club meeting where we will be discussing George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which pitches a lone everyman, Winston Smith, against the power of a totalitarian state which controls every aspect of everyday life. The sinister Party, fronted by the mythological figure of Big Brother, deliberately impoverishes language twists information so that even rebellious thoughts become impossible. When Winston meets a woman called Julia, however, he starts to believe that they can break free.

Our special guest for the evening will be Dr Lisa Mullen, who teaches modern and contemporary literature at Cambridge, and is in the midst of writing a book on Orwell and illness.

About Nineteen Eighty-Four, Lisa says: ‘Orwell’s book was published in 1949, yet it seems to have predicted, with almost uncanny insight, our own era of video surveillance and post-truth politics. It seems to offer a very pessimistic assessment of human nature – but does it also offer a glimmer of hope that there might be a better way of organising society?’

As well as hearing from Lisa about her thoughts and observations on 1984, we will once again be opening the floor up to you, our club members, to share your own observations and remarks. To get you thinking and to help prepare any comments or questions you might want to share, we have prepared three starter questions:

1. “'There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.'” What does Nineteen Eighty-Four tell us about who owns the truth?

2. To what extent do the characters conform to gender stereotypes?

3. How do we read Nineteen Eighty-Four as both a product of its time - a post-war dystopia - and as a prediction of the modern world we are currently living in?

Further information about The Really Popular Book Club, including our FAQs, can be found here.

Where: Online via Zoom Meetings

Registration: Free event, registration required: REGISTER HERE

Date: Tuesday 29 June 2021