Books 1984


Books 1984b

To Jackie Jura of Orwell Today:

Orwell fully prints the entire 8-line Prole Song twice in his novel so it must be important.

I've read Nineteen Eighty-Four three times over the last fifteen years, but only recently noticed that the Prole Song has two different variations. What is very strange is that I'm seeing recent editions with both versions of the song, meaning that the same song is printed two different ways in the same paperback by the same publisher. Do you know if these variations exist in the first edition or relatively earlier hardback editions? (Were there textual differences in the UK and US version?) I am in the USA, and have searched some recent editions using Google Books as well as some online versions using Google.

The words are the same, but punctuation mysteriously varies as well as (mis)spelling of one word: "across" is spelled "acrorss". The additional punctuation is an extra exclamation point after "stirred" which honestly looks like it doesn't belong there, and the entire song is offset by diacritical marks sometimes but not others. Occasionally, "'eartstrings" is one word, but usually there is a dash: "'eart - strings."

I find it odd that a book that is now a classic would have typographical errors, and was wondering if these "errors" are not errors at all but were intended by Orwell but mistakenly altered by some recent publishers. Did Orwell actually want both versions to appear in the same novel? Or why would a publisher correct the word "across" the first time the song appears in the novel, but not the second time, as well as change how a poem is offset and other punctuation? What did Orwell intend?

One version is like the version you have at your website at: JFK WIT & ORWELL SONG:

It was only an 'opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an' a word an' the dreams they stirred
They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye!'

They sye that time 'eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an' the tears across the years
They twist my 'eart-strings yet!"

The other version is:

It was only an 'opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an' a word an' the dreams they stirred!
They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye!'

They sye that time 'eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an' the tears acrorss the years
They twist my 'eartstrings yet!

Also, during my search, I think I discovered part of Orwell's inspiration for writing this song at GEORGE ORWELL: AN AGE LIKE THIS, 1920-1940. When Orwell was hop-picking in August 1931, a young labourer sang:

A voice so thrilling ne'er was 'eard
In Ipril from the cuckoo bird,
Briking the silence of the seas
Beyond the furthest 'Ebrides


Greetings Crac,

I don't own an original, first-edition hardcover or paperback copy of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, ie the one published by Secker & Warburg in 1949 (although I own Orwell's hand and type-written "1984" manuscript but the Prole Song pages aren't in there).

Manuscript 1984

Otherwise, for "1984" all I've got is a selection of paperbacks. The one I used when creating the ORWELL TODAY website is a very tattered 1966 Penquin edition which is falling apart completely. My second Penquin is a 1990. Both were printed and published in Great Britain.

Books 1984

Books 1984b

I also have two Signet editions, a 1959 (published in USA but printed in Canada) and a 1984 Commemorative edition (printed and published in 1983 in USA for release in 1984).

In my above-selection of books all the errors pointed out by you are there, ie the word "across" spelled incorrectly - and correctly - in the same book; an exclamation mark after "stirred" in one edition and no exclamation mark in the other three; and the word "'eart-strings" spelled with a hyphen and also unhyphenated (in different editions).

My opinion of these discrepancies is that they are a) typing mistakes as in "across" and the exclamation mark after "stirred" and b) British as opposed to American spelling as in "eart-strings" and "eartstrings" respectively. (But also there's the chance that spelling "across" as "acrorss" was how Orwell wanted it pronounced).

I think it's safe to say that the typos were overlooked by proof readers in the various editions and where there are two versions in one book maybe they figuratively cut-and-pasted from one edition to another and didn't notice. (Actually, in my 1966 Penquin "across" is spelled "acrorss" and the exclamation mark is there after "stirred!" but I changed them on the website, thinking they were typos ~ jj)

It's interesting that you found Orwell's inspiration for the HOPELESS FANCY prole-song in his HOP-PICKING short-story published in AN AGE LIKE THIS. This goes to further prove that Orwell's books are very autobiographical with characters and situations taken from his own life experiences - and used more than once in various books, ie as in the hop-picking experiences of the character Dorothy (Orwell in disguise) in chapter six of A CLERGYMAN'S DAUGHTER published in 1935 - four years after the HOP-PICKING short story which was published in 1931. And, as we all know, Orwell was at one time a hop-picker doing research for his DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON (published in 1933).

It's interesting too that the last line in the HOP-PICKER'S poem is "beyond the furthest 'Ebrides" which is Cockney accent (or prole) for "Hebrides" which is the location of the Island of Jura - in the Scottish Hebrides - where Orwell went to write "1984".

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - There is a discrepancy in the various editions that is more than a typographical error or a proof-reading error (it's an editorial decision) that has to do with the line "2 + 2 =  ":

2 + 2 =      2 + 2 = 5

In the 1966 Penquin edition that I used for ORWELL TODAY the answer to the equation is left blank. But in all other editions I own it is filled with the number "5".

I touch upon the meaning of this discrepancy in a previous essay WINSTON EXISTED, STILL EXISTS but will expound on it further (when I get the time) now that you've brought the topic of discrepancies in various editions to the forefront.

READER'S 1984 "1984" GIFT



Jackie Jura
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