NSA revelations trigger a spike in '1984' sales(Read article summary)
George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' has experienced a sales surge since the National Security Agency's surveillance program has been in the headlines.
Oscar Wilde once said that âLife imitates art far more than art imitates life.â
Rarely has that proven more true than in recent weeks when revelations about the National Security Agencyâs surveillance program has drawn countless comparisons to the police state depicted in George Orwellâs novel â1984."
In fact, so chilling are the parallels for many Americans that sales of the dystopian novel have skyrocketed following news of the governmentâs spying program.
As of Tuesday, Amazon sales of Orwellâs â1984â surged 6,021 percent in just 24 hours, according to NPR.
Based on Orwellâs observations of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, the novel, published in 1949, warns of the dangers of government surveillance. It paints a picture of a state constantly tracking the thoughts and actions of its citizens, crystallized in its slogan âBig Brother is watching you.â
That slogan has been used to describe the governmentâs recent actions. Recent news has revealed that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans to create a database to determine whether terror suspects have been in contact with US residents, according to the AP. The program has reignited the debate about whether heightened security measures to fight terror infringe on privacy and civil rights.
âThrowing out such a broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared,â Michael Shelden, author of "Orwell: The Authorized Biography," told NPR.
Not surprisingly, news coverage and social media chatter about the NSAâs surveillance program has been rife with terms like âBig Brotherâ and âOrwellian,â phrases borrowed from the dystopian world of â1984.â
For those in the books world, the borrowed phrases and surging sales come as no surprise. Books have long mirrored the social and political affairs of the times and, just as often, current affairs have mirrored literature. As NPR points out, sales of Ayn Randâs âAtlas Shruggedâ surged during the banking industry bailouts of 2008.
Who knew Orwellâs cautionary tale would fast become a reality? No doubt Orwell himself.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.