Feminist Retelling of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four Seen Through Julia's Eyes is Approved by Orwell's Estate

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Orwell’s classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four will be reimagined by Sandra Newman from a feminist viewpoint, telling the story from the perspective of Julia, the love interest of the original protagonist

Novelist Sandra Newman to pen feminist retelling of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons

Modern literature has been filled with feminist retellings of classic adult and children’s tales in recent years. This has been an attempt to reimagine stories by telling them through female characters often reduced to minor roles without much or any voice in the originals. Examples include female characters inspired by mythological stories involving Circe (Circe), Medusa (The Cold Is in Her Bones) and Beowulf (The Boneless Mercies).

Now, the estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of his last and arguably most famous book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, to be written by Sandra Newman. In the new treatment of the story, appropriately called Julia, readers will be able to view the dystopian state of Oceania through the eyes Julia, of the love interest of the original protagonist, Winston Smith. The change in perspective promises to be an interesting one since, in many ways, Julia and Winston are opposites in the original story.

Because there are so many differences between Winston and Julia there will be a number of new things readers will learn from this new novel about the characters, setting and times first defined in Orwell's work. According to the Orwell Estate’s literary executor Bill Hamilton, "Two of the unanswered questions in Orwell's novel are what Julia sees in Winston, and how she has navigated her way through the party hierarchy."

In addition to several other novels, Newman wrote The Country of Ice Cream Star (2014), which tells the story of Ice Cream Fifteen Star who a dystopian landscape as she tries to locate a cure for her bother’s genetic disease. The novel was nominated 2015 for both the Folio Prize, and Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

Julia is expected to be released in 2023, though no specific date has yet been provided. The novel has been approved by Orwell’s estate which includes his son, Richard Blair. The George Orwell estate, stated they had been “looking for some time for an author to tell Julia's story” and felt that Newman was the 'perfect fit' to write the story. Julia will come out after Newman’s novel The Men is published in 2022.

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