An artist is collecting 1,984 copies of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for a display on the island where it was written on its 75th anniversary.
Orwell wrote the dystopian novel on Jura in the Inner Hebrides between 1946 and 1948, while living in a cottage with no heating or hot water.
The writer, known to islanders by his real name Eric Blair, left the island in January 1949 due to severe tuberculosis, and the novel was published on June 8 of that year.
It became a literary classic, loved by many for its satirical exploration of class and resistance against authority.
Artist Hans K Clausen, who first read it aged 16, is collecting used copies of the book for an art installation, The Winston Smith Library Of Victory and Truth, to go on display in Jura Village Hall on June 8 and 9, 2024.
He has 1,200 copies of the book in 20 different languages so far, and is appealing for donations of “worn and personalised” copies.
Most of the books are annotated and some contain mementoes, including pressed flowers, old bus tickets and sweet wrappers.
Others contain personal and birthday messages, doodles, and names – including a copy from a school library which has a log showing one pupil borrowed the book repeatedly.
Mr Clausen said the display is intended to celebrate the “defiance” of print and the power of sharing books, as well as spark “creativity, curiosity and conversation”.
He also hopes to collaborate with a gin distillery on Jura to create a Winston Smith Gin – because the spirit is the only pleasure allowed in Orwell’s post-war London, known as Airstrip One.
A 2011 Romanian edition which belonged to Mihaela Coman was accompanied by a note which said: “For my first 27 years, I lived in this book. I was always hungry, cold and scared – playing with equalities and better-world ideas can be dangerous.”
Mr Clausen said: “You enter all these rabbit holes with old books – there’s an antiquarian book market where they go for thousands of pounds, but it’s just a paper book. I love the material aspect of the book, not this preciousness.
“There’s a subplot into other people’s lives, some of the books have come from charity shops and have notes in them, one was a retirement gift from the 1970s.
“I’ve got a lot of decommissioned library books and there’s one from a grammar school down south, the same girl borrowed it four or five times.
“I do work for the NHS and believe there’s a therapeutic benefit to books in the same way to being outside, the experience of holding a book and the physical presence, getting away from screens.
“It’s entering a magical world, it’s just lovely.
“This is about creating a monument to publishing and the defiance of the printed word – affirming the timeless power of storytelling that transcends borders, cultures and ideologies.
“It’s also a celebration of the ethos of public libraries, the pleasure and enlightenment of reading, and the timeless joy of holding a book in your hands.”
Mr Clausen, who attended Edinburgh College of Art and has a studio in Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, described the project as “a sort of homecoming for Nineteen Eighty-Four”.
Visitors will be encouraged to take copies from the shelves, explore them and add their own responses so the library continues to evolve.
There will be a 1930s Remington Home Portable typewriter identical to the one Orwell used alongside the display, on which visitors will be invited to leave comments or reflections.
All book donors will receive an enamel badge, symbolising lifetime membership of The Winston Smith Library Of Victory and Truth.
Mr Clausen said: “Opening the packages, it’s like Christmas every day.”
To donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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