Which book do I have to buy

1984 by George Orwell - Which Book Should I Buy?

  • Good evening,

    briefly to me: I'm in my mid-20s and read a book a few years ago. Except for three books that you had to read in school (yes, I felt it was more of a compulsion and therefore books were very stupid for me for a long time). So that means I'm inexperienced when it comes to books and reprints.

    Now I have heard many times about the 1984 book that George Orwell wrote. Since I see great parallels to classic surveillance states in today's society, I find this book extremely interesting and would like to read it now. I thought to myself, "You go to the bookstore and buy that thing." Mistake! I looked it up on the internet and there are so many differently designed books.

    Is there anyone here who has read the book and can tell me what this is about? George Orwell wrote the book then and someone translated it in 1950. Now I can find a lot of newly printed books, but they all look very different from the book from 1950. Have you just changed the spelling and choice of words of today or does it make a difference which book I buy?

    I would of course prefer to read the German first edition from 1950. But you can't buy them on the internet.

    I have to buy a newer book for better or worse. Can you recommend a year of publication for me? I even prefer an old book. I find old texts so interesting because only small details make the sentences sound different.

    But are they all the same in terms of content, or does each translator change something in the book as they please? Because I could just buy one in the bookstore, but I'm afraid it won't be like the original.


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    Hello Cede,

    As long as there is no explicit mention of "abridged edition" somewhere in the imprint, you can buy any edition of the novel. Currently there are e.g. these here as TB. If you really want to compare different translators, then nothing else will help you than, for example, going to a second-hand bookshop in the hope that they will have different editions of the book there.

    many greetings from the Squirrel

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  • In any case, don't buy the book from 1894! This is fake!

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    If you value the original translation, you have to find out who translated it back then and whether there is a current edition of it. Basically nothing is changed in the content, but individual words can be different depending on the translator. And as Squirrel has already said, as long as you don't get an abridged version, everything is in there that is in the original.

    The spelling has probably already been adjusted, but you have to look at it on site. For example, Sofie's world still uses the old spelling.

    "If you have never said" Excuse me "to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time."
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    “I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish. " (Edith Sitwell)

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  • The first German translation I know is from 1950 and it was translated by Kurt Wagenseil.

    Here is a look at the first page from it:

    It was a clear, cold April day, and the clocks were striking thirteen, when Winston Smith, chin to chest to avoid the choppy wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of one of the Victory Block houses, albeit not quickly enough that a whirl of gritty dust did not penetrate at the same time as it did.

    The hall smelled of boiled cabbage and damp floor mats. On the back wall was a brightly colored poster that was actually too big for an interior space, fastened to the wall with thumbtacks. It was just a huge face more than a meter wide: the face of a man about forty-five years old, with a thick black mustache and attractive, if rough, features. Winston went up the stairs. There was no point trying the elevator. Even at the best hours of the day, it rarely worked, and at the time the electricity was turned off during the day.

    That was one of the economic measures of the Hate Week, which is in preparation. The apartment was up seven flights of stairs, and thirty-nine-year-old Winston, with thick varicose lumps over his right ankle, walked very slowly and rested several times along the way. On every landing opposite the elevator shaft, the poster with the huge face stared at him. It was one of those portraits that are painted in such a way that your eyes follow you everywhere. "Big Brother is looking at you!" Read the headline below.

    © Diana Verlag Zurich 1964

    For comparison, the same excerpt from the German translation by Michael Walter from 1997:

    It was a bright and cold April day, and the clocks struck thirteen. Winston Smith, chin pulled to his chest to avoid the hideous wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of the Victory tenement, but not quickly enough to prevent a gritty swirl of dust from blowing in with him.

    The hall smelled of cabbage soup and rag rugs. At one end a color poster had been pinned to the wall that was actually too big for inside. It showed nothing more than a huge face over a meter wide: the face of a man about forty-five with a heavy black mustache and robust, attractive features. Winston headed for the stairs. Trying to take the lift was pointless. It rarely worked, even at favorable times, and currently the electricity was turned off during the day. This was part of the austerity campaign in preparation for Hate Week. The apartment was on the seventh floor and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer over his right ankle, walked slowly, breathing several times along the way. On each landing, the poster with the huge face stared off the wall across from the elevator shaft. It was one of those images that seem to follow you everywhere with your gaze. THE BIG BROTHER SEES YOU, read the line below.

    © Ullstein Verlag 1997

    And here is the same text from the English edition:

    It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a colored poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of

    those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

    Those who get up earlier hate more of the day.

    I just:

  • Squirrel

    The "abridged edition" is a very valuable reference. Thanks a lot for this!

    In any case, don't buy the book from 1894! This is fake!

    I didn't notice the typo until much later. It was late and I was tired.


    Well then it's good that the translators don't change the content. As I said, I didn't know whether the translators would then change the story in a way that suits them.


    The comparisons are great, thank you. A little different, but the content remains the same. Then I can confidently buy a more recent edition. As I can see right now, old editions are actually rather expensive collector's items.

    I just don't want to read a book that is totally banana in terms of content and doesn't come close to the original.

    You helped me, thank you all.

  • Now I have one more question.

    Let's take these two books:



    One is from 1994 and has 383 pages. The other is from 2017 and has 544 pages.

    Are these differences simply due to a different typist and size? I can certainly get the latest edition in the bookstore. It would then have more sides.

    Sensible and durable hardback books are arguably not that popular these days. The modern 1984 versions are all paperback books. Hardback books are either ancient or in English.

  • Probably on the one hand due to a different font or font size on the other hand probably also due to different forewords, editor's notes etc.

    You can probably only say exactly if you compare the different versions directly with each other. But in the version from 2017 you are quoting, there is at least an afterword by Daniel Kehlmann in the description.

    Those who get up earlier hate more of the day.

    I just:

  • This is such a novel that you assume that you have to find it good just because of the subject matter and everything else would be outrageous. I think the topic is important, but I couldn't do anything with the style and nature of the story. There is currently such a beautiful edition with a black bookcut, but I'm not going to get it.

  • cede I had this edition at the time, and it was not abridged. However, it is only available used.

    I guess you won't make a mistake in getting the newer edition.

    2021: Books: 70 / Pages: 31 377
    2020: Books: 139 / Pages: 60 837

    "The non-perception of something does not prove its non-existence"

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    Kepler, Lars - Flame Children

  • Then I take the latest edition. Thanks for your advice.

  • K.-G. Beck-Ewe

    Changed the title of the subject from "1894 by George Orwell - Which Book Should I Buy?" To "1984 by George Orwell - Which Book Should I Buy?"