1984 (George Orwell, 1949)
George Orwell's classic dystopian novel is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Life in the Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control. The individual is always subordinated to the state, and it is in part this philosophy which allows the Party to manipulate and control humanity. In the Ministry of Truth, protagonist Winston Smith is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party's propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct, yet his meagre existence disillusions him to the point of seeking rebellion against Big Brother, eventually leading to his arrest, torture, and reconversion. Since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and Memory hole, have become contemporary vernacular. In addition, the novel popularized the adjective Orwellian, which refers to lies, surveillance, or manipulation of the past in the service of a totalitarian agenda.