Author: Orwell, George
George Orwell [pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950), journalist, political author and novelist wrote Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949);
“It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.”
Originally titled Last Man in Europe it was renamed Nineteen Eighty-Four for unknown reasons, possibly a mere reversal of the last two digits of the year it was written. It was first met with conflicting criticisms and acclaim; some reviewers disliked its dystopian satire of totalitarian regimes, nationalism, the class system, bureaucracy, and world leaders’ power struggles, while others panned it as nihilistic prophesy on the downfall of humankind. Some still see it as anti-Catholic with Big Brother replacing God and church. From it the term Orwellian has evolved, in reference to an idea or action that is hostile to a free society. Yet, Nineteen Eighty-Four has proven to be a profoundly meaningful work and continues to be one of the world’s most widely read and quoted novels into the twenty-first century. Inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin's (1884-1937) We, Blair worked intensely, often writing ten hours a day and even when bedridden with tuberculosis in his last days continued to labour over it. From his essay “Why I Write”;
“First I spent five years in an unsuitable profession (the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma), and then I underwent poverty and the sense of failure. This increased my natural hatred of authority and made me for the first time fully aware of the existence of the working classes, and the job in Burma had given me some understanding of the nature of imperialism: but these experiences were not enough to give me an accurate political orientation. Then came Hitler, the Spanish Civil War, etc. By the end of 1935 I had still failed to reach a firm decision.”
He goes on to say; “The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”
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