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1984 - George Orwell, Erich Fromm Celebrity Deathmatch Review: 1984 vs. The Annotated Alice

Alice was sitting next to her sister, who was absent-mindedly gazing to the ground. They were sitting on a huge rock, in a drab and gloomy place once known as Hyde Park.

“What are you staring at?” asked Alice abruptly.

“Staring? What is ‘staring’?” asked her sister without moving her gaze.

“Staring means looking continuously at something without moving your eyes away, just like what you are doing now,” said Alice.

“What is ‘means’? What is 'continuously'? Why are you talking ungood again?” said her sister reproachfully. “When last year father was talking like this, I told the thought police about him. They took him away for a long time and when he came back, he was talking doubleplusgood. Do you want me to tell them about you?”

“No, no. I don’t want to go away. I was just asking what you were looking at” said Alice fearfully.

Her sister didn't reply and seemed not paying attention to her.

Once, when Alice was on her way home, she stumbled upon a very old blue book upon which was written "Oxford Concise Dictionary" in big letters. She took the book home and showed it to her father. The latter seemed very interested in it and kept it hidden inside one of the old unused pillows. He told her not to tell anyone about it, and when she asked him why, he told her a silly story which Alice can't even remember now. Only Alice and her father knew about it and she used to look up words every couple of days, which her father taught her to do.

Sitting in the gloomy place, Alice felt very bored and started looking around. Some ten yards away she saw a huge brown rat, which was moving its mouth and seemed to be making some noise. When Alice came near it, she heard it saying: “I’m late. I must hurry!”

These words were very familiar to Alice. When the rat began running and went behind a huge rock, Alice followed it and as she reached the place, she saw a dining table on which dozens of ugly rats were eating and drinking while chatting very loudly.

“Long live Big Brother” said one of the rats suddenly, raising its glass of Victory gin.

When the others heard this, they all raised their glasses and shouted at once: “long live Big Brother.”

Alice scowled. She used to hear these words at school for several times each day. She hated them. Every time she had managed to start a conversation with a friend about toys, candies, or Imaginary places, the teacher used to shout “Long Live Big Brother,” and they had to repeat the words after her.

One of the rats, who seemed to be taking interest in Alice, came near her.

“Hello my child. What are you doing here?” said the rat with a familiar tone.

“Hello. I followed the brown rat," said Alice. "I once dreamed of a talking white rabbit, which I followed into a very beautiful and curious place. There, I used to grow and shrink in size, and saw talking animals which played games with me. There were even rats there, but not as ugly as you_” she regretted the last sentence, but the rat didn't seem to pay attention to it.

“And?” said the rat.

“And that’s it. It was a very nice place. Much more beautiful than here," said Alice with a frown.

“Hmm. Now tell me about the way you speak my dear” said the rat, with a malicious grin.

Alice suddenly realized that she was inadvertently using words from the dictionary, and the rat understood them. She remembered that every time she accidentally used words from it with a friend or a family member (her father told her not to do so), they didn't understand what she was saying.

“Tell me my dear," repeated the rat, "how do you know so many words?”

She tried to think about an answer, when the rat suddenly took out its hand, which was holding the very dictionary, from its pocket.

“Is this the reason?” said the rat pointing to the dictionary.

Alice didn't understand what was happening and how the rat had the dictionary. She suddenly realized that dozens of rats were rushing towards her and began taking her away. She started crying and tried to free herself, asking them to be taken back to her sister, but no one paid attention to her.

All the rats disappeared except the one with the dictionary and another fat and extremely ugly one. Both took off their disguise and turned out to be members of the thought police.

“Good job comrade” said the fat man, who seemed to be the chief. “Let me know your name once more.”

“Smith, Winston Smith” said the man, who was now burning the dictionary with the same malicious grin.

Matchpoint: 1984