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Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 13:22:28 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) Orwellian geography

Adam Stephanides quoted me and wrote:
>> While there are threads of textual truth to this viewpoint, still it is
>> clear to me that: North America is scarred by the atomic war to a degree
>> greater than Europe was scarred by WWII; the name "Oceania" is not a poetic
>> one (for a sea power superstate) is a geographical one (like the names of
>> the other two superstates) that in this case describes the area of
>> Australia, New Zeland, and islands around there -- Australasia -- and this
>> is the location of the command/control structure.
>> The former USA is a battered, poisoned province, less well off than
>> Airstrip One.
>> And Big Brother is an Aussie.
>I don't think so; "the book" says that "With the absorption of Europe by
>Russia and _the British Empire by the United States_ [my emphasis], two of
>the three existing powers, Eurasia and Oceania, were already effectively in
>being." (Part Two, Chapter IX; p. 153 of the Signet Classic paperback).  But
>I'd be interested to hear your reasons.

But Adam, the passage you quote refers quite specifically to 1949!  The
sentence before says before mid-century; the sentence after says that
Eastasia only emerged after another decade of fighting (i.e., 1959); the
next paragraph says that these three superstates have been fighting for 25
years (1984-1959 = 25 years).

The atomic war was in the 1950s and left scars that had still not been
cleaned up in 1984. Presumably this war was between the two superstates
(i.e., exactly like the Cold War situation of US/USSR).

Again, my main argument is one of the geographical terms: Eurasia,
Eastasia, and Oceania.

Another point, tangential and interpretive: Airstrip One, bedraggled,
rationed, WWII-era Airstrip One, is nevertheless the third most populous of
the provinces of Oceania (p. 7).  (If we use 1950 population numbers for
England/Wales, that is 44 million.)  How would you interpret that, given
that the other provinces include North America, South America, Western
Africa and Southern Africa (but nothing in geographical Oceania, since
that, I argue, is the core area)?  Personally I think it tricky to envision
entire continents as "provinces," but that might be an easy solution: North
America as most populous (1950 around 200 million), South America as second
most populous (1950 around 135 million), and then Airstrip One.  But if the
provinces are smaller, and realistically closer to national boundaries (or
fractions of former nations), I think it gets more difficult unless, say,
full scale atomic war has run its truly awful course and caused serious
population decreases in the bombed areas.


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