Lit ► George Orwell



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Pelafina

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I've enjoyed Animal Farm quite a bit both times I've read it, and it's interesting to see how much more you get out of it as your life experiences increase. I was just beginning to really learn about the USSR in some detail when I first read it, and being able to identify the characters and situations with their real counterparts was neat as hell.

As for 1984, when I first read it sophomore year, I agreed with most people about it being really excellent and prophetic and all that. But after reading it again a month or so ago, it seems a lot more unrealistic. Back when it was written, it was much more applicable, but now I think humanity is changed too much for it to be as accurate as it was.

I've only read one of his essays, Shooting an Elephant, though he's written quite a few others I believe. The metaphor in that work was very well done, Orwell was an expert on sharing a message by telling a seemingly unrelated story. If you get a chance to, I'd suggest reading it. Here's a link to the essay, if you'd like. [click]
 

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Gah George Orwell. As opposed to the opinion of the majority of my school I love love love Animal Farm. It's easily one of my favorite books. Though, no one else seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. Consequently I hate hate hate 1984, I found it dull and slow. But that's just my opinion.
 

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As for 1984, when I first read it sophomore year, I agreed with most people about it being really excellent and prophetic and all that. But after reading it again a month or so ago, it seems a lot more unrealistic. Back when it was written, it was much more applicable, but now I think humanity is changed too much for it to be as accurate as it was.
What has changed, do you think?
 

lions

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As for 1984, when I first read it sophomore year, I agreed with most people about it being really excellent and prophetic and all that. But after reading it again a month or so ago, it seems a lot more unrealistic. Back when it was written, it was much more applicable, but now I think humanity is changed too much for it to be as accurate as it was.
It seems even more applicable to me, what with the government tracing your IP, tapping your phones, etc.
 

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It seems even more applicable to me, what with the government tracing your IP, tapping your phones, etc.
Well, the cold war ended.
In response to both of these--was 1984 that much of a period piece? Has the self-expanding, self-fulfilling movement toward power it describes ended with the cold war or just now begun with recent innovations in technology?

There is a passage in the book that I think discourages such a temporal reading.
1984 said:
You have read of the religious persecutions of the past. In the Middle Ages there was the Inquisition. It was a failure. It set out to eradicate heresy, and ended by perpetuating it. [...] Later, in the twentieth century, there were the totalitarians, as they were called. There were the German Nazis and the Russian Communists. The Russians persecuted heresy more cruelly than the Inquisition had done. And they imagined that they had learned from the mistakes of the past; they knew, at any rate, that one must not make martyrs. [...] And yet after only a few years the same thing had happened over again.
No, whatever the method, I think that movement toward power, that movement of power, is not contained within a particular time period. As O'Brien later states to Winston: "What happens to you in here is forever."
 

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But it's really not about an end result, about the state of the world now or back in 1984 or at any point in the forseeable future. It's about a movement toward power that doesn't ever stop, even while it may temporarily be relieved by the breaking of the Cold War or the fall of a totalitarian government. The world Orwell describes in 1984 is one gone far further down a continuous path to power than our own, thankfully, but even it has not reached an end point; and it never will. It will always progress toward more pain; "if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever."

That is the sense in which I say Orwell's world is not limited to the world of the Cold War any more than to the worlds of Nazi Germany or religious persecutions preceding it. It is the process toward power that continues through all of them, and continues through our own as well, even if in less blatant forms.
 

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People are always going to seek power = what you're saying. I agree. Just a world like 1984's probably wont exist because of the knowledge in which pretty much every person has now etc
 

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People are always going to seek power = what you're saying. I agree.
Largely, yes. But I think it is a mistake to see power as just an object of individual pursuit. It is a much larger system, within which individuals such as O'Brien and, ultimately, Winston are meaningless. Everyone from Caesar to Stalin plays their part.

Red Socks Pugie said:
Just a world like 1984's probably wont exist because of the knowledge in which pretty much every person has now etc
One must hope this is true. But I don't think it's a question of knowledge--things are not kept secret from the population in 1984; they have doublethink.
 

Faris

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Largely, yes. But I think it is a mistake to see power as just an object of individual pursuit. It is a much larger system, within which individuals such as O'Brien and, ultimately, Winston are meaningless. Everyone from Caesar to Stalin plays their part.
Powers definition varies from person to person.
But largely you are right

One must hope this is true. But I don't think it's a question of knowledge--things are not kept secret from the population in 1984; they have doublethink.
In a sense they are in which they just deny them the truth.

But also remember that my argument is just based on my faith in human kind.
 

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He was a pretty cool guy. I love his wit, and his bluntness, which really come out in his essays more than anything. He's probably the most prominent writer to have advocated a simplistic writing style - i.e. saying something in as few words as possible and without complex or superfluous words.

Also, I love the fact he was an experiential writer, like you can see in lot of his autobiographical writings, where he sort of was a hobo for ages and travelled around Europe. There are really interesting times where he would just go to homeless shelters, and hang around with all these down and outs. I enjoy reading writers like him who possess restless, inquiring minds.

Pelafina said:
but now I think humanity is changed too much for it to be as accurate as it was.
I sort of agree with this; I think in the modern age people are more likely to feel that they have a right to liberty. Regardless of whether they have the capability of resistance, at least they have a subversive mentality.
 

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Red Socks Pugie said:
Yeah definitely. But at the same time it was written with massive connotations to the cold war in mind.
I've no doubt you're right, but could you point some of them out to me?

He was a pretty cool guy. I love his wit, and his bluntness, which really come out in his essays more than anything.
I agree that some of his essays are astounding pieces of work. He has an almost vicious humanitarian concern and incredibly keen perceptions for where this is being subverted; these come together to form essays that, in style, are diametrically opposed to 1984 and Animal Farm but, in content, I think are very closely connected.

Enchanted Rose said:
I sort of agree with this; I think in the modern age people are more likely to feel that they have a right to liberty. Regardless of whether they have the capability of resistance, at least they have a subversive mentality.
And what has changed the modern people's mentality so drastically in 60 years?
 

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Just the struggle for power. Sort of how all 3 nations in the novel need to war to remain all powerful. I know there have been arguments proposed that America and Russia were doing something along the same lines.
 

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Just the struggle for power. Sort of how all 3 nations in the novel need to war to remain all powerful. I know there have been arguments proposed that America and Russia were doing something along the same lines.
America and Russia are two nations. Why does Orwell have three? What do we know about the other two nations?
 

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America and Russia are two nations. Why does Orwell have three? What do we know about the other two nations?
Orwell has the three to demonstrate the continual presence of an enemy and an ally in war. It would be too strange to have but one person becoming a friend and then an enemy and back and forth. The Party always needed someone to shift the blame to, so Orwell had the third group.
 
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