LMA Book Group is a reading group that meets monthly to explore a range of London writing, with a remit covering fiction and non-fiction for all periods in London history.
January’s read – 1984 by George Orwell
‘He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him whether London had always been quite like this. Were there always these vistas of rotting nineteenth-century houses, their sides shored up with baulks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs with corrugated iron, their crazy garden walls sagging in all directions?...But it was of no use: he could not remember.’
We will be starting the year with a novel rightly famous for its portrayal of a totalitarian state, ruled by a surveillance culture and a constant state of war. But as well as being an important political novel, this is also a novel about London, no longer the capital of the United Kingdom, but of Airstrip One. Large parts of the City are ravaged by war and remain undeveloped, and it is in these areas, where echoes of old London remain, that the ghosts of the past resonate most strongly with the central character Winston. Through the glimpses of the old city he can see a world of individuality and pleasure that vividly contrasts with the coercion and control he experiences in his daily life.
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