In George Orwell’s “1984,” the classics of literature are
rewritten into Newspeak, a revision and reduction of the
language meant to make bad thoughts literally unthinkable.
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words,” one true
Now some of the writer’s own words are getting reworked in
Amazon’s vast virtual bookstore, a place where copyright laws hold
remarkably little sway. Orwell’s reputation may be secure, but his
sentences are not.
Over the last few weeks I got a close-up view of this process when
I bought a dozen fake and illegitimate Orwell books from Amazon.
Some of them were printed in India, where the writer is in the
public domain, and sold to me in the United States, where he is
Amazon’s credibility problem with counterfeit products is as bad as ever, but it’s particularly rich when it comes to bastardized versions of Orwell’s oeuvre.