(6217) Orwell, George (1903-1950). Nineteen-Eighty-Four.
Original typescript, 1st copy. 29cm. 123 pages, 6 page Appendix on DoubleSpeak. Samizdat buried in the grounds of a State Asylum.
Officially speaking the Soviet press and intelligentsia had nothing to say about George Orwell. Although his “1984” is accepted to have been inspired by a trip to Nazi Germany there were those in the Western Press who interpreted the book as, like Animal Farm, another satire of Soviet Russia and Orwell as a voice out loud against Stalinism. Since the term “Orwellian” came to signify (rather quickly after publication) the nightmarish vision of what could happen if totalitarianism were to expand unchecked his absence in public libraries is unsurprising. In addition Orwell compounded his own unpopularity with the Department of Literature and Publishing by basing several characters in the novel directly after actual people in Soviet history and, in articles from the 1940’s, by outright calling the Soviet State totalitarian.
But Orwell’s actual influence in the Soviet Union was considerable, at least for those who could get their hands on his works. F Znakov attributed the concept that class struggle between the partocratic “upper class” and the technocratic “middle class” would be essential for political change in the USSR to Orwell. Several of the Soviet science fiction authors to emerge during the boom of the late 50’s through to the early 70’s attributed, borrowed and paid homage to, in particular of course, 1984 and Animal Farm.
The subject matter of Animal Farm is enough for it never to be brought to publication in the Soviet Russia. 1984 would have struck a very different chord. As Orwell described the past as being “whatever the records and memories agree upon… it follows that the past is whatever the Party chooses to make it.” Soviet censorship officials would never allowed such a perceived blatant accusation of revisionism through the net never mind the Thought Police who were based on the NKVD which arrested people for being anti-soviet. Too many elements of the Soviet system were used in 1984’s totalitarian ideology for it to have ever been published inside Russia but it should come as little surprise, that Orwell would be one of the first Western authors Soviet citizens would have been most anxious to see in print. The first complete edition in Russian was in 1989 when Russia was in full swing of the perestroika; as far as we have been able to ascertain our samizdat does not correspond to any published edition in Russian.