When the government worries us, it would seem that people turn to literature for guidance: the discovery of PRISM, an online surveillance program developed by U.S. intelligence organizations, has led to a remarkable spike in sales for George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984.
The book’s sales rank jumped from #7,636 to #123 in just 24 hours on Amazon.com, and it is clear that the information released about the NSA’s surveillance efforts is the primary cause. A representative of Penguin (who publishes the novel) told Today via email: “The current coverage has translated in a surge in mentions and conversations about Orwell’s classic providing new platforms of discovery to bring readers to the book.” And yes, they have taken into account the kids who are reading the book for summer programs. The current surge had more than that to account for, it would seem.
Less surprising is that the book has been named-checked by both pro and anti-PRISM politicians—it wouldn’t be the first time 1984 has been brought into the political arena, and it surely won’t be the last.
The representative from Penguin also pointed that the relevancy of the book has never truly waned, regardless of public feeling. Considering the novel’s permanent place on many school curriculums, the statement seems entirely apt. In addition, the National Journal noted that the first publication of PRISM’s existence came only a few days before the anniversary of 1984’s original release on June 8, 1949. Awkward…
The All-Seeing Eye is turning heads again. But what fascinates us most is our need to turn to science fiction when we’re uncertain of our future.