As news of government surveillance of private citizens continues to break, many people are looking for a convenient primer on living under the all-seeing eye of a totalitarian dictatorship. Granted, we’re not there yet, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of folks from preparing. For Amazon, that means that copies of 1984, George Orwell’s bleak vision of a dystopian future, is positively flying off of digital shelves, shooting up a staggering 7,005% in popularity in the past few days.
While we’re glad to see people getting back to reading Orwell — 1984 is a seriously tremendous work of literature and there’s never a bad time to read it — it’s a bummer that it’s turned into a guide to modern life under the watchful eye of Big Brother rather than a cautionary tale. If you could harness the power of Orwell spinning in his grave right now, you could provide electricity to a small nation. Also, while we’re on the topic, if you are going to read Orwell, don’t stop here — do yourself a favor and check out his criminally underrated memoir Down and Out in Paris and London.
As for me, yeah, I’m also revisiting 1984, but I bought a used copy from a bookstore. With cash. While wearing a mask. No, no receipt, thanks. Can’t be too careful these days.