Invitation to Participate in Discussions of George Orwell’s, 1984

Our next First Fridays Classic Book Club will be held on June 2 at 10:30 at the Midlothian Library, 521 Coalfield Road in Midlothian Virginia, from 10:30 to noon. If you want to support our group, you may arrive shortly after 10 am to set up chairs and tables, stay a few minutes after noon to take them down, bring an occasional snack or drink, and/or invite friends to attend our discussions. You may also take part here, Online!

If you live out-of-town or cannot physically attend our meetings, you may take part by leaving a comment at the bottom of this website: I will also post a later summary of our discussion after we meet.  At anytime, you may also suggest a book that you would like to read. lead, or discuss at a future meeting. I am very encouraged by our participation so far, after only four months! I understand that it takes dedication and time to locate and read a new or old book each month. However, you may often find copies of our classic books at local libraries, used book stores,, used books section, or by downloading them on Kindle or other E-Readers.  I know some members participate in several groups. However, I believe that the benefits of these discussions provide a more in-depth understanding of our selections than by just reading them alone. The motto of this website and our book club is that “A Classic Book Keeps Speaking to Us Long after It’s Written.” This idea certainly can be soundly supported by our upcoming reading choice.

This month Verner Daniel and I will facilitate a discussion of 1984, by George Orwell, (pen name, Eric Arthur Blaine), who lived from 1903 to 1950. 
Many critics consider 1984 both a satire and a critical commentary on the Totalitarian States that were emerging in Hitler’s  Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, and Stalin’s Communist Russia. Orwell had previously written several essays on these events in the 1930’s and 40’s. However, Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (published in 1949) are his most acclaimed books. 1984 introduces several terms that have become part of our modern-day cultural and political vocabulary, such as: Big Brother, Double Think, Newspeak, and Thought Crime. A theme that runs throughout his writings is that heavily controlled society’s, like those noted above, were becoming increasingly dehumanizing in his lifetime. He implies that if they are not thwarted, they can become increasingly repressive.
His books were influenced by and critically compared to Brave New World by Aldus Huxley (1932). Orwell’s works have also inspired some of the most powerful dystopian novels that followed his classic work, such as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1954), Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1975), and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1986).
Orwell could not suggest in 1949 that our present-day society is certainly headed in the same direction as the ones he wrote about. However, we can discuss whether he hints at this idea in this forum. I believe he wished to challenge readers to decide if the creation of the society’s he creates might be possible in our lifetime. He also seems interested in getting us to think about what types of actions we could take actions to prevent their development. Regardless of our views on 1984 and other futuristic novels, we cannot ignore the trend that many readers are re-examining or newly discovering dystopian books. For example, both 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale have re-appeared, after many years, on several current bestsellers’ lists.
You are invited to join us in our discussion of this book in person and/or via Another post will follow this one, after our live discussion, on the this site.
You may also send comments or questions directly to me via this email address. Thanks, Murray, Club Coordinator.



Dr. Murray Ellison received a Master’s in Education from Temple University (1973), a Master’s Degree of Arts in English Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University (2015), and a Doctorate in Education at Virginia Tech (1988). He is married and has three adult daughters. He retired as the Virginia Director of Community Corrections for the Department of Correctional Education in 2009. He is the founder and chief editor of this literary blog and is an editor for the International Correctional Education Journal. He is the Co-Editor of the 2016 book of poetry, Mystic Verses, by Shambhushivananda. He also serves as a board member, volunteer tour guide, poetry judge, and Facilities Planning Committee Coordinator for the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond Virginia. He teaches literature classes at the OSHER, Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Richmond; is the organizer and coordinator of The First Fridays Classic Book Club; and is co-organizer, along with Rebecca Elizabeth Jones, of the VCU Working Titles Book Club. Contact Murray at, or leave a note at the bottom of the post.

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