The second in our series of Dystopian Dialogues is a conversation with Nathan Waddell from the University of Birmingham about George Orwell, Anthony Burgess and dystopia.
Burgess was strongly influenced by Orwell, and in his book 1985 he places Nineteen Eighty-Four in the context of a ravaged post-war Britain. He writes: ‘You saw the effects of German bombing everywhere, with London pride and loosestrife growing brilliantly in the craters. It’s all in Orwell.’
In this wide-ranging conversation, we find out about Orwell’s experiences in Burma, his inspiration for Nineteen Eighty-Four and Burgess’s dystopian response to Orwell’s novel, among other things.
Dr Nathan Waddell is an Orwell expert and (like Burgess himself) a keen amateur pianist. He runs a scholarly website, Reading Orwell, and has contributed to the Imperial War Museum North exhibition on Wyndham Lewis. His recent books include Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism and The Cambridge Companion to Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Look out for other episodes in the Dystopian Dialogues series. We recently spoke to the writer Adam Roberts about utopia and dystopia in a live online event. This will appear on our YouTube channel soon, and we’re planning future Dystopian Dialogues, in which we will explore the worst of all possible worlds.