either the high imaginative force of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or the self-contained logic of Mr Orwell’s own Animal Farm. The reader of the latter book, once he had accepted the initial premises, found no difficulty in accepting the deductions. The reader of Nineteen Eighty-Four is unable to surrender to a similar suspension of disbelief. People who were twenty-five in 1960 (when Ingsoc was established) would only have been forty-nine in 1984: they would not have lost all memory of the past. It would have been physically impossible for the staff of Thinkpol to be so assiduous as to observe all the movements of the Outer Party members all the time. Such inconsistencies of detail prevent our surrendering ourselves wholly to Mr Orwell’s thesis: but it is an excellent thesis none the less.
Diana Trilling, Nation
25 June 1949, pp. 716-17
Diana Trilling (b. 1905), wife of Lionel Trilling; American literary critic and editor of D. H. Lawrence.
Although George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a brilliant and fascinating novel, the nature of its fantasy is so absolutely final and relentless that I can recommend it only with a certain reservation. This is Mr Orwell’s picture of the way the world ends: actually it does not end at all, physically—one would even welcome some well-placed atom bombs—but continues in a perpetual nightmare of living death. Thirty-five years from now, according to Mr Orwell’s grim calcula-tion, there will be three great powers on this planet, any two of which will be constantly at war with the third, not for ascendancy but in order to maintain the political and economic status quo—‘War is peace, ’ as the party slogan has it. For the rulers of the future state it is enough that people are allowed to exist; their welfare—in any sense