Jun 14 2013 11:30am

1984 Receives Surge in Popularity Following the Reveal of PRISM

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, 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.

1. Dahrvim
I do think it is healthy for all people to be exposed to the novel 1984, I would add two points.

The timing of increased purchases of the novel and the news cycle, says to me this is much more driven by the IRS and AP eavesdropping than PRISM.

I would also hope that and recommend for those who read 1984 as a response to current times, that you also take the time to read "Animal Farm"
2. Kasiki
For a comment on government in general you should also add Lord of the Flies.
3. between4walls
And for an understanding of where Orwell is coming from (it's always amusing when people don't realize he was a socialist), his war memoir Homage to Catalonia. Plus it's just a good book, and shows the experiences from which he derived his later dystopian works and the idea of doublethink.
4. Oleo
Shocking that everyone hasn't already read this. Also shocking that people were surprised to learn about the NSA collecting metadata on communications. I always assumed that they did that.
Steven Lyle Jordan
5. Steven_Lyle_Jordan
"But what fascinates us most is our need to turn to science fiction when we’re uncertain of our future."
Why not? What other genre or group actively discusses the future or its impact on individuals and society? (Other than bookies, I guess.)

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