Around this time last year I re-read Orwell's 1984 and was so impressed I included it in an exercise that has thrilled my Level 2 students, who were asked to to pitch it to journalists who were running a book week aimed at persuading 18-25s to read more. (It's complicated, but I am sure they enjoyed it!). There's a fascinating piece on the Official Penguin blog about how they approached rewriting the blurb for (yet another) new edition. It's a pretty goood attempt!
'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 …
Here's what Senior Copywriter Colin Brush had to say: "This edition is not the Penguin Modern Classics edition. This edition is the one we want to get into the hands of school kids, to grab their short attention spans. So yes, putting the key words - Big Brother, Thought Police, Room 101, Ministry of Truth - in there is important, but that is no reason to leave the story or the characters out.
"The great thing about Nineteen Eighty-Four is that it is so unsettling, it is so terrifying and bleak (and not much fun as satire, either). To get that across we need to know what's at stake - what Big Brother is opposed to. We need Winston and Julia, their hopes and love, their humanity. Without Winston and Julia there is no tension, no story."