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Brave New World vs Nineteen Eighty-Four

Brave New World vs Nineteen Eighty-Four

Dystopian books and films are in the zeitgeist. Reflecting the often dark mood of our times, Intelligence Squared are staging a contest between two of the greatest dystopian novels, Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Each book captured the nightmares of the 1930s and 40s. But which vision looks more prescient to us now in the 21st century? Are we living in George Orwell’s sinister surveillance state? Or in Aldous Huxley’s vapid consumerist culture? To battle it out, we are bringing two celebrated writers, Adam Gopnik and Will Self, to our stage.

After Donald Trump was elected, it seemed as if Nineteen Eighty-Four had clinched it. The book shot to the top of the bestseller charts. It felt so ominously familiar. In Orwell’s dystopia, the corporate state controls the news, insisting that ‘whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth’. That sounds very like Trump’s ‘alternative facts’, and the war he is waging on the ‘fake news’ media. Orwell imagined two-way telescreens spying on

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