1984 by George Orwell, Part 1: Crash Course Literature 401

In which John Green returns for a dystopian new season of Crash Course Literature! We’re starting with George Orwell’s classic look at the totalitarian state that could be in post-war England. Winston Smith is under the eye of Big Brother, and making us think about surveillance, the role of government, and how language can play a huge part in repressive regimes.

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Arjun Rajagopalan says:

Ingsoc is probably going to say….9 + 10 equals 21

Dani G says:

yay!! literature is back!! we need some lovecraft please

Issa Haddar says:

I think I broke the like button. One of your best videos. The pace is just right and the questions you raised in the end about language are intriguing.

Graham Webb says:

Hey remember when you said that George Orwell was a democratic socialist. You know who else was a democratic socialist Hitler, Hitler was actually elected and he was a socialist making him a democratic socialist. The Nazi party is actually an abbreviation for national socialist party.

thelunaticfringe says:

“What Orwell failed to predict is that we’d buy the cameras ourselves, and that our biggest fear would be that nobody was watching.” -Keith Lowell Jensen

Ryland Hunstad says:

Can you do Atlas Shrugged soon? It’s a good book that is very heavy and I would like to see a Crash Course video on it. Thanks!

Velocinox says:

John has a stain on his shirt…

mahabeen people says:

This book was confusing for me

Geoffrey Maher says:

I love that the thought balloon for Thomas Pynchon is a guy with a bag over his head.

zac dybeck says:

Orwell is a libertarian

Sam Obispo says:

War is peace. Bruce Jenner is a woman. Ignorance is strength. Fat women are attractive. Freedom is slavery. Elizabeth Warren is a Native American.

Sadiya Begum says:

Can you please do Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?? Currently, studying for GCSEs and finding difficulty in it

Cobalt Ninja says:

I want to become a Patreon so bad but I’m only 13 and I don’t have any money D:. I’m pretty sure there are more people out there in my situation.

Ruth Barr says:

Winston gets extremely lucky!

Utkarsh Bansal says:

I hope you guys cover some comics someday. Watchmen and Maus are just all-time great dystopian fiction. And I’d love a video on Calvin and Hobbes.

Also, can Deathly Hallows be considered dystopian fiction? I love how they used magic to enforce the fear of Voldemort’s name and find the rebels.

wisemoon40 says:

I love Crash Course literature! It would be great to see you guys do some of the great science fiction or fantasy stories…I can’t recall if you’ve done Ray Bradbury yet (most English classes do Fahrenheit 451 if they do anything, but I had a teacher who chose Dandelion Wine instead), but in general genre fiction has been missing in your series. I recommend you consider the following: Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles; Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land; Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; Asimov’s Robot novels; Philip K. Dick’s body of work (particularly early works before his work started reflecting his worsening mental illness); and especially Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy. I mean that’s just a very small sampling, of course–you could do an entire series on women in science fiction, or artificial intelligence as an exploration of what it means to be human, or alienation and its relationship to rapid technological advances. But at least throw all us genre fans a bone here and include *something*. PLEASE.

xZeno says:

I can see that Road to Wygan Pier might be an anti capitalist book, but 1984 and animal farm are not, that is a ridiculous claim

ledlow costanza says:

*_it is a great book_*

burke warren says:

Man this book tore me apart

Ercan Er says:

I found that the newspeak’s reason for existence is irrelevant. Because even if you limit the words people actually thinks one facts, like air, water, fire, earth. The facts does not need to have a name, as long as the language game -as Wittgenstein suggests- occurs. For example in the movie ‘Gods Must Be Crazy’ they don’t have word for glass bottle but their usage and the object’s impact on the life of bushmen made them to think the bottle as an “evil thing” and that was totally useful for them.
However in today there are too many words in languages can mean the same thing which breaks the bond between realty and language. In most dictionaries meaning of a word is simply provisioned with another word which has appearently the same meaning. Why do you think this is a problem? Because that is a evasion of telling the true meaning, so makes people to use language improperly. This improper usage leads some unskilled language users to make demological philosophy.
Idiocratic questions have been asked because of this broken string of words and language. So in the end Noone really thinks on the meanings or expressing what they really think, they simply love to use some unorthodox words, so this would make them feel unique. For these kind of people language lost its true purpose of being the beat known communication instrument. Language is nothing but a fancy pile of sounds and letters.
For example fate and Destiny are used for God’s power to foresee and make everything. Now science simply tries to reject it but in science the unbreakable bond of causality means the same thing and while scientists laugh at the fate believers they can proudly say that they are determinists to the core.

Today’s languages have no back bone for words and vocabulary, this makes language learning is a painful process and hinders even blocks communication to a level that noone really tries to understand eachother.
We really don’t need language or words to understand eachother, but a language’s priorty for existence must being a tool for communication not the other way around.

Star says:

the small victories reminds me of “The Shell” a book by “Mostafa Khalifa” where he describes his life in “Tadmor Prison” under Al-Assad regime

Ulyana Shmidt says:

You better do some Russian lit this season or im gonna go Raskolnikov on a babushka.

Eli DEVITT says:

George Orwell was the absolute boy.

james staggs says:

The scariest part of the book to me is the “newspeak” and “crimethink” bits. Tell me that’s not happening right now and I’ll call you a liar. Our news outlets are just propaganda machines and our social networks are no better. Some of us are fighting tooth and nail to stop this while seemingly many more are gleefully helping to usher in thought control that can’t be avoided, all because they think that power will never be used against them or their ideas.

Eric Grabowski says:

“What thoughts cant I think because of the language ive inherited” ? Blew my mind.

Brain Fog says:

Are you from the femnist Green party?


also anyone read the road to Wiggin pear 10/10 I loved it.

Salwa Elbarbary says:

Why do i feel that you didn’t give the book the appreciation that it deserves ?

PastaDan says:

I forgot John Green was an author until he mentioned it even though I watch crash courses in school and have read at least one of his books

Benjamin Soria says:

Where’s pt 2?

Gregg L. Van DeVeer says:

Newspeak sounds like politically correct speech practiced by the liberals on the left who loudly proclaim that anyone who disagrees with their views is a sexist, racist, or any other “ist” that comes to mind and fits the needs of the moment.

Scott Hurst says:

I’m writing my english coursework on 1984 and The Yellow Wallpaper so so glad John goes through both

Cassady Alberico says:

Please never stopping making these. This creative team is ridiculously good at making me learn and think

Adote Azhar says:


Jerome Brown says:

Dysfunctional is Practical. Love is Animosity. Autonomy is Dependence. An illusion is a Reality. Propaganda is a Fact.

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