Ninety-Nine Novels: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
In 1984 Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
In this episode writer and academic John Bowen guides Andrew Biswell of the Burgess Foundation through Nineteen-Eighty Four by George Orwell, one of the most influential pieces of dystopian fiction ever written. Published in 1949, it tells the story of Winston Smith, an office drone who works for the Ministry of Truth. Orwell’s novel creates a terrifying vision of a totalitarian Britain which still resonates today.
George Orwell was born as Eric Blair in 1903 in India. He is renowned for his political writing in the non-fiction books The Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London. His novels include Animal Farm, Burmese Days and Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He died in 1950.
John Bowen is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of York. He is the author of Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit and has edited Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers and Phineas Redux for Oxford World’s Classics. He has contributed to a number of television documentaries and radio programmes, including BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, Front Row, Open Book, and Woman’s Hour, Dickens’s Secret Lover on Channel 4 and Being the Brontes on BBC2. His edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four is published by Oxford University Press in the World’s Classics series.
Books mentioned in this episode
By George Orwell:
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
- Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (1839)
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
- Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (1940)
- Molloy by Samuel Beckett (1951)
- Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett (1951)
- The Unnameable by Samuel Beckett (1953)
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)
- Troubles by J.G. Farrell (1970)
- G by John Berger (1972)
- The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell (1973)
- Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz (1977)
- Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (1979)
- Good Behaviour by Molly Keane (1981)
- The Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee (1983)
In Series One of Ninety-Nine Novels, we learnt about authors including James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Naipaul and Alan Sillitoe, among others. These episodes are available at your favourite place to get podcasts.
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
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The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.