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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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SECTION IX

It is in this section that art and politics collide and Orwell's fascination with his message gets in the way of the story. It contains great huge swatches of the Goldstein book, which echoes political writings of the time, including The Managerial Revolution and The Machiavellians, both by James Burnham; The Revolution Betrayed, by Leon Trotsky, and perhaps Das Kapital, by Karl Marx.

Unfortunately, for readers of fiction, political theory is never as gripping as the question of what's going to happen to the characters, which is why this chapter almost breaks the back of the book. Fortunately, Orwell is a good enough writer to keep us going. He has raised enough questions about the fate of Winston and Julia to make us sit still for this ideological interruption. We may squirm a little, but when the lights come up on the show after the political interlude, we're still in our seats.


Winston is "gelatinous" with fatigue after putting in a ninety- hour week. Right in the middle of Hate Week, history took an abrupt about-face and Oceania was not at war with Eurasia at all. Oceania was at war with Eastasia; Oceania and Eurasia were fighting side by side.

You can imagine how much alteration of records this involved, including quick changes in the middle of one Inner Party member's speech. As the people listen to this "little Rumpelstiltskin figure, contorted with hatred," they realize that the enemy has changed and that they're carrying the wrong signs! Orwell is clearly exaggerating for comic effect, showing us how arbitrary these changes are, and how easily the people are manipulated. Hate Week goes on.

Winston is anxious to do as good a job as he can because he's conscientious about his work; he's even proud of a good job well done. But he's also the secret rebel who is disgusted by outrageous doublethink of this kind. He is, furthermore, carrying Goldstein's book.

After work, Winston retreats to the room at Mr. Charrington's, where he leafs through the book and waits for Julia to arrive. He's thrilled to be reading The Book, called The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein.

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