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George Orwell’s ‘1984’ hits bestseller list again

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NEW YORK -- 2017 has been "doubleplusgood" for sales of George Orwell's "1984."

The famed dystopian novel of life in a totalitarian state sat at the top of  Amazon's bestseller list Wednesday. Earlier in the week the book hovered between No. 5 and No. 7 on that same bestseller list, as CNN's Brian Stelter noted in his Reliable Sources newsletter.

First published in 1949 and imagining a future authoritarian society, "1984" is widely regarded as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century. Its state, Oceania, employs a language called Newspeak (and words like "doubleplusgood") to limit freedom of thought.

"We're going fight the battle of 1984 in 2017," said David Sloane, Professor of Literature, University of New Haven. "It's a tragedy about being taken over by a civilization that lies to itself."

The book focuses in particular on the impact of omnipresent government surveillance and the state's use of propaganda to enforce orthodoxy to an all-powerful leader, known as "Big Brother."

Sloane said, years ago, his student's thought the book's story line could never resemble reality. "I think those students are kind of incredulous now," said Sloane. "That's why there's a flight back to the bookstores and to Kindle and to a whole bunch of other places to start to read this book again," said Sloane.

The novel's newfound popularity comes several days after White House press secretary Sean Spicer argued defiantly that Trump's swearing-in Friday drew the largest-ever audience for an inauguration "period," despite obvious photo and statistical evidence to the contrary.

Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway later defended that argument by saying Spicer's false claims were actually "alternative facts."

That phrasing was reminiscent of Orwell's "Ministry of Truth," which, he wrote, concerns itself with "lies."

The book's bestseller status isn't necessarily just due to Team Trump, as "1984" remains required reading in most schools.

Sloane said, "Orwell is going to have good book sales for the next couple years."

This isn't the first time "1984" has seen a sales spike in recent years. The book also hit Amazon's bestseller list in 2013 after Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance program.