Mon. May 23rd, 2022

The estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of the Nineteen Eighty-Four, which recreates the story from the perspective of Winston Smith’s lover Julia.

Introduction with one of literature’s most famous lines – “It was a bright cold day in April and the clock struck thirteen” – Orwell’s 1949 novel takes place in a dystopian future in which Britain, known as Airstrip One, is part of it totalitarian. the state of Oceania. Big Brother rules supremely, and the Thought Police knocks out any individual mindset. Winston Smith works in The Ministry of Truth and rewrites the story to fit Big Brother’s narrative. He starts a forbidden affair with Julia – who works on the novel typewriters in the fiction department – until both are captured and sent for re-education via room 101.

Julia by Sandra Newman
Julia by Sandra Newman Photo: Granta

In Julia by Sandra Newman, the events of the Nineteen Eighty-Four are seen through the woman’s eyes. “It was the man from Records who started it, he completely ignorant in his primo, gloomy way, his over-it-all old way of thinking. He was the one Syme called ‘Old Misery,'” writes Newman. “Comrade Smith was his real name, though ‘Comrade’ never suited him in any way. Of course, if you felt stupid calling someone ‘Comrade’, it’s far better not to talk to them at all. “

Publisher Granta said Julia understands the world of Oceania “far better than Winston and is basically happy with her life”. As Orwell puts it in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “in some ways she was far more acute than Winston and far less receptive to party propaganda … She also aroused a kind of envy in him by telling him that during those two minutes she hated her great.the difficulty was to avoid breaking out in laughter.But she only questioned the party’s teachings when they somehow touched her own life.Often she was ready to accept the official mythology, simply because the difference between truth and lying did not seem to matter to her. “

“She has not known any other world, and until she meets Winston, she had never imagined one. She is opportunistic, believes in nothing and does not worry about politics at all. She routinely breaks the rules, but also cooperates with the regime when it “She’s an ideal citizen of Oceania,” Granta said. she is losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world. “

Orwell’s estate said it had “been looking for some time” for a writer to tell the story of Smith’s lover, and that Newman, who has previously been longlisted for the Women’s Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian first book award, “proved to be perfect. fit ”.

Granta added that “Richard Blair, Orwell’s son, has been consulted and approves the project”.

“Two of the unanswered questions in Orwell’s novel are what Julia sees in Winston and how she has navigated through the party hierarchy. Sandra gets under the skin of Big Brother’s world in a completely convincing way, which is both true to the original, but also gives a dramatically different narrative to stand next to the original, “said the estate’s literary trustee Bill Hamilton. “The millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will find this a provocative and satisfying companion.”

Julia will be published after Granta publishes Newman’s new novel The Men – where every single person with a Y chromosome disappears from the world – in June next year. It is the latest in a series of feminist retellings of classic stories, from Natalie Haynes ‘re-creation of the Trojan War A Thousand Ships and Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, a version of the Iliad from Brisei’s perspective, to Maggie O’ Farrell’s Hamnet , which centers on the life of Shakespeare’s wife, and Jeet Thailand’s Names of the Women, which tells the stories of 15 women whose lives overlapped with Jesus.

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