The Ministry of Truth
Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2019
Longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2020
'Fascinating . . . If you have even the slightest interest in Orwell or in the development of our culture, you should not miss this engrossing, enlightening book.' John Carey, Sunday Times
George Orwell's 1984 has become a defining narrative of the modern world. Its cultural influence can be observed in some of the most notable creations of the past seventy years, from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to the reality TV landmark Big Brother, while ideas such as 'thought police', 'doublethink', and 'Newspeak' are ingrained in our language.
The Ministry of Truth charts the life of one of the most influential books of the twentieth century and a work that is ever more relevant in this tumultuous era of 'fake news' and 'alternative facts'. Dorian Lynskey investigates the influences that came together in the writing of 1984 from Orwell's experiences in the Spanish Civil War and in wartime London to his fascination with utopian and dystopian fiction. Lynskey explores the phenomenon the novel became when it was first published in 1949 and the changing ways in which it has been read over the decades since, revealing how history can inform fiction and how fiction can influence history.
'Everything you wanted to know about 1984 but were too busy misusing the word "Orwellian" to ask.' Caitlin Moran
Fascinating . . . Freshly and powerfully argued . . . If you have even the slightest interest in Orwell or in the development of our culture, you should not miss this engrossing, enlightening book.
John Carey, Sunday Times
The Ministry of Truth is the best book I have read in a long time. Fizzing with ideas yet superbly readable, it takes us though Orwell’s life and the development of twentieth-century utopias and dystopias, to the long afterlife of Orwell’s greatest work, read and misread during the Cold War as simple anti-communist propaganda, then in the 1980s as a failed prophecy, before finally and frighteningly showing it as a warning for our own age. When today 1984 is scrubbed from the internet in China, Russia weaponises lies on social media, and in the West a Trump adviser talks of “alternative facts” on his Inauguration Day, Lynskey's book is both a warning and an exhortation for us all to be stubborn as Orwell was with facts, and like Winston Smith to cling to the belief that 2+2=4.
C. J. Sansom
Everything you wanted to know about 1984 but were too busy misusing the word -Orwellian- to ask.