The humorous rewriting of Orwell’s '1984'


political humour

How to Cite

Tsakona, V. (2021). The humorous rewriting of Orwell’s ’1984’: the Greek version. The European Journal of Humour Research, 9(4), 58–73.


This commentary piece offers some preliminary thoughts concerning the Greek memes produced since COVID-19 disease arrived at Greece at the end of February 2020, through identifying an analogy between the sociopolitical conditions in Greece-under-lockdown and Orwell’s Oceania in his 1984 novel. It is specifically argued that such texts constitute political humour commenting on the abrupt, yet pervasive changes attested due to state measures against the spread of COVID-19 disease. To this end, memes collected from the social media are discussed and interpreted in comparison with extracts from Orwell’s novel to point to striking similarities between the 1984 sociopolitical context and the Greek one. It is, however, suggested that there is a significant difference between the two contexts: in Orwell’s dystopia, humour seems to have no place at all; on the contrary, humour thrived in Greece-under-lockdown, especially among participants in the social media, in the form of rapidly created and disseminated memes. Memory (a central notion in Orwell’s novel) emerges as a crucial factor for the production of such humour in contemporary Greece and for its absence from Orwell’s Oceania.


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