Tag Archives | George Orwell

7 Language Tricks Politicians Use to Deceive You and What to Do About it (According to George Orwell)


Via HighExistence:

By concentrating on essays along with fiction, according to Hitchens, writing in Why Orwell Matters, Orwell was able to take on “the competing orthodoxies and despotisms of his day with little more than a battered typewriter and a stubborn personality.”2

But what makes Orwell stand out from the other great humanists of the 20th century, and why he should matter to you, is the way he took that stubborn personality of his and used it to tackle many of his own despotic and prejudicial inclinations. Hitchens expands:

The evidence of his upbringing and instincts is that he was a natural Tory [conservative] and even something of a misanthrope…3 He had to suppress his distrust and dislike of the poor, his revulsion from the ‘coloured’ masses who teemed throughout the empire, his suspicion of Jews, his awkwardness with women and his anti-intellectualism. By teaching himself in theory and practice, some of the teaching being rather pedantic, he became a great humanist.

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Why Are Beggars Despised? by George Orwell

Sandra Druschke (CC BY 2.0)

Sandra Druschke (CC BY 2.0)

via Reddit (r/books):

It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary “working” men. They are a race apart–outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes. Working men “work,” beggars do not “work”; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not “earn” his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic “earns” his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable.

Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people.… Read the rest

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Huxley’s Letter to Orwell Regarding “1984”


In case you aren’t aware, Aldous Huxley was George Orwell’s French teacher at Eton College. The below letter contains Huxley’s brief review and initial thoughts on Orwell’s iconic masterpiece.

Wrightwood. Cal.

21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual’s psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: A Reflection

David Blackwell. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

David Blackwell. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Today is the 65th anniversary of George Orwell’s (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) dematerialization. C_D

Robert McCrum writes at The Guardian:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Time is out of joint, and everyday life has no comfort any more: from Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) to Animal Farm (1945), George Orwell had been incubating a profound inner dissonance with his society. Even as a child, he had been fascinated by the futuristic imagination of HG Wells (and later, Aldous Huxley). Finally, at the end of his short life, he fulfilled his dream. Nineteen Eighty-Four, arguably the most famous English novel of the 20th century, is a zeitgeist book. Orwell’s dystopian vision was deeply rooted both in its author’s political morality, and in its time, the postwar years of western Europe.

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George Orwell really did have a stint in jail as a drunk fish porter

Edward Burton, aka Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell.

Edward Burton, aka Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Luke Seaber, University College London

If you had been walking down Mile End Road in London on Saturday December 19, 1931, you would have witnessed a scene common in the days before Christmas across Britain. A man who had celebrated a little too much a little too early was taken away by the police after he had consumed four or five pints and the best part of a small bottle of whisky and made a nuisance of himself. But this wasn’t quite as run of the mill as it seemed.

There was nothing in the incident that the police had not seen a hundred times before. Nor was it anything new to those sitting on the bench at Old Street Police Court, where a chastened casual fish porter at Billingsgate, one Edward Burton, was fined six shillings the Monday following – six shillings he couldn’t pay.… Read the rest

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Summer of Surveillance: 1984 vs. The Circle

[Editor’s note: This post contains minor spoilers.]

In 1984, George Orwell presents a dystopian future in which citizens are under constant surveillance by the government, while records of the past are continuously edited and destroyed. The past becomes an abstract notion, ever shifting and strategic, and these manipulative tactics allow the ruling elite to maintain control. This is a closed system, through which pure information only flows in one direction before being heavily altered and then filtered back to the unsuspecting masses. With slogans like “WAR IS PEACE”, “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY”, and “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”, Orwell makes it quite clear that the rulers of this world mean business and will stop at nothing to ensure the continuation of their reign.

Three surveillance cameras on the corner of a building. By Hustvedt via Wikimedia Commons.

Three surveillance cameras on the corner of a building. By Hustvedt via Wikimedia Commons.

In The Circle, Dave Eggers presents an interesting contrast to Orwell’s dark and legendary vision.… Read the rest

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A Letter to George Orwell from a High School Student

The Library of Congress hosts a national reading and writing program (Letters about Literature) that invites students in grades 4-12 to write letters to an author – living or deceased. Here’s one such letter from Devi Acharya in Missouri.

via The Library of Congress blog:

George Orwell

George Orwell

To George Orwell:

You were right, you were right, you were right. I’m sorry I never saw it before, and I feel like an idiot, sitting here and penning this to you when you were so unspeakably right. You shouldn’t have published those books of yours under the guise of fiction—how could fiction be what’s happening outside my very doorstep! People get so worked up, angry at some imaginary oppressive tyrant when the very dystopias we fear and loathe are being built around us. I’m only just beginning to see them myself—brick and mortar meant to keep worlds apart, shields of hatred and arrows of intolerance, warlords arming for battle while the unwitting peasants continue to live from day to day.

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Oh, George (Orwell)

Review: Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, Metropolitan Books, 2014

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

George Orwell press photo

George Orwell

Oh, George

We need you now,
more than ever, ever
to help us wade through
new words of war by wankers
high on high tech
& fudged perceptions
in a security bubble of insecurity

We need help, George,
penetrating acronyms
of government gone wild
of spies & lies
and the madness
of the overtly clever
and covertly maniacal

Hey, Hey, NSA
How many emails did you ‘process’ today?
How many calls did you convert
into acres of unread metadata
stored somewhere in Utah
until the big roundup
that’s coming soon

Hey, Hey, NSA, why do you play
with code names
coined with a clear intent
to maim
and restrain?… Read the rest

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George Orwell Explains Why He Wrote ‘1984’ in Letter to Reader

Pic: BNUJ (PD)

Pic: BNUJ (PD)

I’ve often wondered what Orwell would think about our current surveillance state. In this letter, the author addresses whether totalitarianism is on the rise.

Via Open Culture:

Most of the twentieth century’s notable men of letters — i.e., writers of books, of essays, of reportage — seem also to have, literally, written a great deal of letters. Sometimes their correspondence reflects and shapes their “real” written work; sometimes it appears collected in book form itself. Both hold true in the case of George Orwell, a volume of whose letters, edited by Peter Davison, came out last year. In it we find this missive, also published in full at The Daily Beast, sent in 1944 to one Noel Willmett, who had asked “whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade” given “that they are not apparently growing in [England] and the USA”:

I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase.

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Surveillance Cameras Wearing Party Hats For George Orwell’s Birthday

Dutch artists Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle, who use the moniker FRONT404, adorned the surveillance cameras in their city of Utrecht in adorable party hats for George Orwell’s birthday:

On Tuesday June 25, to celebrate the 110th birthday of George Orwell, surveillance cameras in the center of the city of Utrecht were decorated with colorful party hats! George Orwell is best known for his book ‘1984’, in which he describes a dystopian future society where the populace is constantly watched by Big Brother. By making these inconspicuous cameras that we ignore in our daily lives catch the eye again we also create awareness of how many cameras really watch us nowadays, and that the surveillance state described by Orwell is getting closer and closer to reality.

orwell's birthday

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