That Year Is Almost Here

But George Orwell's message for 1984 is bigger than Big Brother

He thought it was "a good idea ruined," that futuristic fable he had planned on calling The Last Man in Europe. But he was always pessimistic about his own writing. This time the gloom was deepened by illness. His tuberculosis had worsened. The task of typing and revising the manuscript had broken him physically. He lay in a sanatorium bed when his book was published, in June 1949; the name that appeared on its cover was Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Come Jan. 1, the fictional...