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Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four

4. The Form of Nineteen Eighty-Four: Literary Influences

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the range of literary influences that can be felt in the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) the satiric tradition and the work of Jonathan Swift, especially in Orwell’s fascination with the grotesqueness of the human body; (ii) utopian fiction, including the works of Thomas More’s (Utopia, 1516) and H. G. Wells (A Modern Utopia, 1905); (iii) the influence of contemporary literary/aesthetic movements such as modernism (T. S. Eliot, James Joyce), naturalism (Henry Miller) and surrealism (Salvador Dali); and (iv) the special influence of three novels in particular – Jack London’s The Iron Heel (1907), Evgeny Zamyatin’s We (1921) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932).


In this course, Dr Nathan Waddell (University of Birmingham) explores George Orwell’s 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first two modules provide broad context for the novel: in the first, we think about Orwell’s writing of the novel and the reaction of his contemporaries, while in the second we think about Orwell’s life and career, and the experiences that contributed to the shape of the novel. After that, in the third and fourth modules, we think about the novel’s form, considering first (in the third module) the genre, structure and style of novel, and then (in the fourth module) the texts and traditions that had an influence on the novel. In the fifth module, we think about some of the key themes of the novel, before turning in the six, seventh and eighth modules to focus in more detail on the characters of Winston, Julia and O’Brien. Finally, in the ninth module, we think about the novel’s legacy, including its influence on other writings and its continued relevance today.


Dr Nathan Waddell is Senior Lecturer in Early Twentieth-Century and Modernist Literature at the University of Birmingham. He teaches and researches early twentieth-century literature, with a core emphasis on the life, work, and controversies of the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). His recent publications include Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism (2019) and (as co-editor with J. Greenberg) 'Brave New World': Contexts and Legacies. (2016).

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Waddell, N. (2020, January 04). Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four - The Form of Nineteen Eighty-Four: Literary Influences [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Waddell, N. "Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four – The Form of Nineteen Eighty-Four: Literary Influences." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Jan 2020,