A 1956 edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four published by Librairie Galimard in France.
The cover features the sum 2+2=4 on the front and 2+2=5 on the back; a reference to the scene in the story where O’Brien tortures Winston Smith until he genuinely accepts that two plus two equals five, or three, or whatever the Party says it equals.
An objective reality (we can all agree that 2 plus 2 does equal 4) was a touch-stone for Orwell in his criticism of intellectuals who ignored the distortion of facts and rewriting of history in the Stalinist USSR. (2+2=5 had also been a slogan used in the USSR to predict the Five-Year Plan would be completed in four years).
Winston Smith had written in his diary, “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four”. Orwell had used 2+2=4 a number of times before Nineteen Eighty-Four.
One quote in particular shows that a central part of the story had been a concern of Orwell’s for some time. In ‘Looking Back on the Spanish War’ Orwell wrote a totalitarian regime would be:
“…a nightmare world in which the Leader or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such event, ‘It never happened’ – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five”.