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I was rereading 1984 when I noticed something amiss in this passage:

A heavy black volume, amateurishly bound, with no name or title on the cover. The print also looked slightly irregular. The pages were worn at the edges, and fell apart easily, as though the book had passed through many hands. The inscription on the title-page ran: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM by Emmanuel Goldstein

Distracted by the wear-and-tear of the book, by the afterglow of his initiation into the brotherhood, Winston fails to ask:

Why does a copy of the most-hated book by the most-hated author still have its title-page? In full capital letters? A title which arouses instant suspicion and would damn the holder if anyone even glimpses at it?

My personal belief is that George Orwelle's' intends to foreshadow that, the Brotherhood as described by O'Brien, is a fabrication.

You have imagined, probably, a huge underworld of conspirators, meeting secretly in cellars, scribbling messages on walls, recognizing one another by codewords or by special movements of the hand. Nothing of the kind exists. The members of the Brotherhood have no way of recognizing one another, and it is impossible for any one member to be aware of the identity of more than a few others. Goldstein himself, if he fell into the hands of the Thought Police, could not give them a complete list of members, or any information that would lead them to a complete list. No such list exists. The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organization in the ordinary sense.

If the organization as described by O'Brien actually existed, one member in the brotherhood would have expurgated the title-page, or replaced the inscription with something far less obvious and offensive. They don't have the luxury of religious reverence towards their book, they can't treat it like a bible; they would have taken a basic-- and safe-- precaution.

Regardless of the Inner Party's motives, whether it was as an oversight or their way of strengthening Winston's entrapment-- leaving the title in the book seems like a masterful way to quietly foreshadow O'Brien's planned betrayal.

Or am I wrong in assuming that level of caution is needed? Would the real-or-imagined Brotherhood actually be fine with leaving that title-page in their book? Why?

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First, it's worth noting that the cover itself didn't have a title, which would help to cover up the title page. Goldstein's book is described as

A heavy black volume, amateurishly bound, with no name or title on the cover. The print also looked slightly irregular. The pages were worn at the edges, and fell apart easily, as though the book had passed through many hands. The inscription on the title-page ran...

That being said, there were a few possible ways that the Thought Police could've discovered what they were reading, most of which would've been problematic even without a title page. For example:

  • They could've read inside the book from a telescreen. In that case, any portion of the book would've likely been incriminating.
  • They could've captured someone while they were reading it or had it in their possession. Again, though, the lack of a title page wouldn't have been much of a defense in this case given that the authorities could (and probably would) simply read what what was written in the book.
  • They could've searched someone's house or belongings and found it there, in which case the same logic as above applies. It's not like they exactly had to get search warrants or probable cause to do so.

I don't have direct evidence on this point from the book, but I'm wondering if the mere act of reading something that wasn't easily recognizable as a Party-published book would look suspicious in and of itself. Again, I don't have direct evidence on that from the book, though.

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