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The cases for and against 1984 as essential reading for 2017

George Orwell's Dystopian Novel 1984 Tops Best Seller LIst, Publisher Orders Additional Printing Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Welcome to Vox’s weekly roundup of the best writing online about books and related subjects. Herewith is the best the internet has to offer for the week of January 23, 2017:

There is no Amazon.com in Nineteen Eighty-Four, because it is not a novel about globalized capital. Not even slightly! Nineteen Eighty-Four does not pastiche a world ravaged by capitalism and ruled by celebrities—the kind of world that could lead to the election of someone like Trump. Instead, it depicts suffering inflicted by state control masquerading as socialism.

  • Meanwhile, at the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani argues that 1984 is a must-read for the world of today:

In “1984,” Orwell created a harrowing picture of a dystopia named Oceania, where the government insists on defining its own reality and where propaganda permeates the lives of people too distracted by rubbishy tabloids (“containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology”) and sex-filled movies to care much about politics or history. News articles and books are rewritten by the Ministry of Truth and facts and dates grow blurry — the past is described as a benighted time that has given way to the Party’s efforts to make Oceania great again (never mind the evidence to the contrary, like grim living conditions and shortages of decent food and clothing).

I have a real soft spot for Dirk Pitt from the Clive Cussler books when he still wrote them himself. Dirk is this amazing, handsome, brash, adventurous guy who loves the ocean and cars and his sidekick Al Giordino. And he just always knows what he needs to know exactly when he knows it. He wouldn’t get kicked out of bed is all I’m saying. And in the books, he doesn’t get kicked out of bed.

My favorite villain is Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s “Misery.” She was certainly … committed. You have to admire that. And I also recognize that beneath her pathology, she was just lonely. I understand what loneliness can make a woman do.

Happy reading!

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