"Do you consider yourself a man, Winston?"
"If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man.
Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors."


"Do you understand that you are alone?
You are outside history, you are non-existent....
You are the last man." said O'Brien.
"You are the guardian of the human spirit."

Greetings Jackie Jura,

Was the working title of 1984 ever 1948? Someone told me Orwell's publishers suggested he reverse the dates. Seems hard to believe, but I haven't read the book in awhile so I thought you might know if this rumor is true or not.

Best from Seattle USA,
"Imperial City of the Information Age"
Charles K.

Greetings Charles,

No, the working title of "1984" was never "1948", it was always "The Last Man In Europe" (which I think was because that's exactly how Orwell felt, and was definitely how Winston felt all through the book).

No one knows for sure why Orwell chose "1984" as the final title. Different theories are discussed (including that he reversed 1948 to make 1984) in my article HOW ORWELL NAMED "1984"

The reason Orwell felt like "the last man in Europe" was in part because he was writing "1984" in almost total isolation on the "extremely unget-at-able place" of Jura, an island in the Scottish Hebrides. See ISLE OF JURA & JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA

Jura Map   Jura Isle

Another reason Orwell felt like "the last man in Europe" during the writing of "1984" was because often, when he wasn't on Jura, he was in solitary confinement in hospital in Glasgow, deathly ill from the effects of tuberculosis. There he had much time to think and compose "1984" in his mind, especially after his typewriter (an extension of his arm) was taken away, as a precaution against his overexerting himself. See WHY ORWELL WROTE "1984".

Orwell's "last man in Europe" feeling could also be attributed to the fact that he had lost all members of his family except for one sister and his adopted son. In less than ten years Orwell had lost his father, brother-in-law, mother, wife and sister to death.

The following passages from "1984" are examples of Winston (a personification of Orwell) feeling like "the last man in Europe", describing, as they do, Orwell's sense of aloneness. They are examples, also, of Orwell's exquisite ability to write prose "as clear as a window pane":

~ He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.

~ 'To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone - to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of BIG BROTHER, from the age of doublethink - greetings!'

~ Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.

~ You had to live - did live, from habit that became instinct - in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness every movement scrutinized....The most deadly danger of all was talking in your sleep. There was no way of guarding against that, so far as he could see.

~ Except by direct enquiry it was never possible to discover where anyone lived. There were no directories of any kind.

~ His father disappeared during these rackety, uneasy times....When he was around twelve his mother disappeared....As for his sister, she might have been removed, like Winston himself, to one of the colonies for homeless children (Reclamation Centres, they were called) which had grown up as a result of the civil war; or simply left somewhere to die.

~ Was he, then alone in the possession of a memory?

~ He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable.

~ What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side. And what way of knowing that the dominion of the Party would not endure for ever?

~ The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don't know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories.

~ The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.

~ In a Party member not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated.

~ Suddenly the passage from the history book that he had copied into his diary came back into Winston's mind, and a lunatic impulse took hold of him. He would go into the pub, he would scrape acquaintance with that old man and question him. He would say to him: "Tell me about your life when you were a boy. What was it like in those days? Were things better than they are now, or were they worse?"

~ A sense of helplessness took hold of Winston. The old man's memory was nothing but a rubbish-heap of details. One could question him all day without getting any real information....Winston sat for a minute or two gazing at his empty glass, and hardly noticed when his feet carried him out into the street again.

~ You could not have pure love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred.

~ Being a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.

~ The room had awakened in him a sort of nostalgia, a sort of ancestral memory. It seemed to him that he knew exactly what it felt like to sit in a room like this, in an arm-chair beside an open fire with your feet in the fender and a kettle on the hob: utterly alone, utterly secure, with nobody watching you, no voice pursuing you, no sound except the singing of the kettle and the friendly ticking of the clock.

~ Why did it always have to be like this? Why could he not have a woman of his own instead of these filthy scuffles at intervals of years? But a real love affair was an almost unthinkable event. The women of the Party were all alike. Chastity was as deep ingrained in them as Party loyalty. By careful early conditioning, by games and cold water the natural feeling had been driven out of them. His reason told him that there must be exceptions, but his heart did not believe it. They were all impregnable, as the Party intended that they should be. And what he wanted, more even than to be loved, was to break down that wall of virtue, even if it were only once in his whole life. The sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion. Desire was thoughtcrime.

~ There was a fraction of a second when their eyes met. An unmistakable message had passed. It was as though their two minds had opened and the thoughts were flowing from one into the other through their eyes. "I am with you," O'Brien seemed to be saying to him. "I know precisely what you are feeling. I know all about your contempt, your hatred, your disgust. But don't worry, I am on your side!" And then the flash of intelligence was gone, and O'Brien's face was as inscrutable as everybody else's. That was all, and he was already uncertain whether it had happened. Such incidents never had any sequel. All that they did was to keep alive in him the belief, or hope, that others besides himself were the enemies of the Party.

~ If you can feel that staying human is worth while, even when it can't have any result whatever, you've beaten them."

~ He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another human being was thinking. Perhaps that was less true when you were actually in their hands.

~ Out of their bodies no child would ever come. That was the one thing they could never do. Only by word of mouth, from mind to mind, could they pass on the secret....The birds sang, the proles sang, the Party did not sing....But you could share in the future if you kept alive the mind as they kept alive the body, and passed on the secret doctrine that two plus two make four.

~ The command of the old despotisms was "Thou shalt not". The command of the totalitarians was "Thou shalt". Our command is "Thou art". No one whom we bring to this place ever stands out against us. Everyone is washed clean. "Do not imagine that you will save yourself, Winston, however completely you surrender to us. No one who has once gone astray is ever spared. And even if we chose to let you live out the natural term of your life, still you would never escape from us. What happens to you here is for ever. Understand that in advance. We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.

~ Once again the sense of helplessness assailed him...."I think I exist," Winston said wearily. "I am conscious of my own identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and legs. I occupy a particular point in space. No other solid object can occupy the same point simultaneously.

~ As usual, the voice had battered Winston into helplessness. Moreover he was in dread that if he persisted in his disagreement O'Brien would twist the dial again. And yet he could not keep silent. Feebly, without arguments, with nothing to support him except his inarticulate horror of what O'Brien had said, he returned to the attack: "I don't know - I don't care. Somehow you will fail. Something will defeat you. Life will defeat you." "We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable. Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your mind. They are helpless, like the animals. Humanity is the Party. The others are outside - irrelevant." "I don't care. In the end they will beat you. Sooner or later they will see you for what you are, and then they will tear you to pieces." "Do you see any evidence that that is happening? Or any reason why it should?" "No. I believe it. I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe - I don't know, some spirit, some principle - that you will never overcome." "Do you believe in God, Winston?" "No." "Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?" "I don't know. The spirit of Man." "And do you consider yourself a man?" "Yes." "If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone? You are outside history, you are non-existent." His manner changed and he said more harshly: "And you consider yourself morally superior to us, with our lies and our cruelty?" "Yes, I consider myself superior." O'Brien did not speak. "Get up from that bed." he said. The bonds had loosened themselves. Winston lowered himself to the floor and stood up unsteadily. "You are the last man," said O'Brien. "You are the guardian of the human spirit. You shall see yourself as your are. Take off your clothes."

~ He obeyed the Party, but he still hated the Party. In the old days he had hidden a heretical mind beneath an appearance of conformity. Now he had retreated a step further: in the mind he had surrendered, but he had hoped to keep the inner heart inviolate. Mere control of your facial features was not enough. For the first time he perceived that if you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself. You must know all the while that it is there, but until it is needed you must never let it emerge into your consciousness in any shape that could be given a name. From now onwards he must not only think right; he must feel right, dream right. And all the while he must keep his hatred locked up inside him like a ball of matter which was part of himself and yet unconnected with the rest of him, a kind of cyst. One day they would decide to shoot him and the heretical thought would be unpunished, unrepented, out of their reach for ever. To die hating them, that was freedom.

All the best,
Jackie Jura


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com