Big Brother’s Long Shadow – Frank McNally on Orwell’s 1984 at 70

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Orwell’s 1947 essay ‘Towards European Unity’ is still relevant today

  • Frank McNally
  • The Irish Times

Published 70 years ago today, George Orwell’s 1984 contains what has been dubbed “one of the strangest coincidences in literature”.

This is because the novel’s villain is a man called “O’Brien” – we never learn his first name – a state agent who befriends the hero, posing as a fellow dissident, before having him arrested for thought-crime.

But a decade before the book was written, “O’Brien” had also been the codename of a London-based communist who was working for the NKVD (the Soviet police, secret and otherwise). And it was to this O’Brien that an…

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