He Gave Us 1984

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
George Orwell, 1984

George Orwell

Today, in 1903, Eric Arthur Blair was born in Motihari, Bengal, India.  We would come to know him as George Orwell, the man who gave us “Animal Farm,” where “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,”   and “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” where “If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.” 

Looking back, it is difficult to understand how someone with his intelligence, wit, foresight and remarkable writing abilities would struggle to establish a career as a writer. At four, George Orwell wrote his first poem; at eleven a local newspaper published a later poem.  As an adult, success was not immediate.  He would take a variety of jobs to keep a roof over his head while he pursued his passion.  His first book, “Down and Out in Paris and London” published in 1933 was a clear indicator of his moral courage and empathy for humanity’s plight.

George Orwell’s biography is a page turner filled with adventure and tragedy in equal measure.  “Animal Farm” was published in 1945, the year his wife Eileen died.  It was a global sensation.  “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, which was to become his most recognized work, was published in 1949, a year before his own death at 46.  Even now, a new generation is discovering the power of his writing. 

“Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.” 
 George Orwell, 1984

38 thoughts on “He Gave Us 1984

  1. a friend recently emailed me with this thought and link… I thought it on topic, especially in light of recent discoveries about government liberties…

    from Darrell:

    In any event, all this stuff is linked in ways to George Orwell. And in my research I came across one of his foundational understandings of language and communication that enabled him to write his works. It is contained in his essay: Politics and the English Language.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Language;

    I never realized it, but George was an advocate of clear, accurate, unbiased and unspun communications.

    This understanding apparently was also the foundation for his work on the misuse and abuse of language. ( eg, “1984” ).

    End Quote:

    Summary: Political speak enslaves us…

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    • I just reviewed his writing rules last night! If only I could be that clear in our writing and in my dialogues. It is an admirable goal! What a great quote – a benediction on this discussion: “Political Speak enslaves us…” Thank you so much for sharing.

      I just had to include his rules – they are brilliant (taken from Wikipedia)

      “Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
      Never use a long word where a short one will do.
      If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
      Never use the passive where you can use the active.
      Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
      Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”

      George Orwell, essay on Politics and the English Language (1946)

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  2. Such a powerful writer who had an uncanny ability to see into the future. I’ve been wanting to reread 1984 again, given recent events. I’m afraid of what those in charge are doing, but I’m more afraid of how the masses are reacting (or rather how they’re not reacting) to it. It’s a little behind schedule, but moving forward just the same.

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    • Well said. I just read that as of June 11, 2013 sales of “1984” were up 3,000% and climbing. We exist in a very complex world. I often think of Boxes in “Animal Farm” who had two mottoes: “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” I always enjoy our dialogues!

      Just ordered a copy of “1984” and “Animal Farm” via Kindle @ 99 cents each.

      “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
      ― George Orwell, 1984

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    • You would find “1984” very interesting. The Kindle Version is only 99 Cents. I think that you would enjoy “Animal Farm” as well (Kindle 99 Cents). He grabs a reader from the first line: “Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes.” You know that something is about to happen!!!🙂

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    • He certainly stretched my mind! His writing was not easy, but it made me think.

      “Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.”
      ― George Orwell, Animal Farm

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  3. He was a brilliant man. Animal Farm will always be one of the most relevant books of all time. I didn’t know that George Orwell wasn’t his real name. You live and learn.🙂

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    • Yes he was brilliant. I must confess that my favourite “Animal Farm” character was Mollie. She was the vain, flighty mare who pulls Mr. Jones’s carriage. She loves being groomed and pampered, the sugar cubes and ribbons. I know that she represents the petit bourgeoisie….but she was true to her “principles” and escaped…

      “Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than just ribbons?”
      ― George Orwell, Animal Farm

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  4. Hello Rebecca.

    Both these books were out English lit’s – teachers favourite books at collage, To my shame I don’t remember much about them now.

    What I do know is that back then, 1984 seemed a long way off and reading the book it sounded like complete fiction, I wonder how much of his writing know just looks like fact and would be seen as almost documentary in nature ?

    I must go and get some new copies !

    Thanks Rebecca, great post

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    • I just ordered both “Animal Farm” and “1984” through Kindle/Amazon! I am with you – I need to re-read them over again. When I first read “1984” I thought – “this can never, ever happen” and decided that it was only Science Fiction. Ah….the twists and turns of history…
      🙂

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  5. What a timely post! I’ve just written a poem partially based on George Orwell’s 1984! It’s taken me many years to get round to reading it, I appear to have waited until I’m the age he was when he wrote it!🙂

    He is an excellent writer, something I really didn’t appreciate at sixteen in 1984! His characters are very colourful and amazingly real. And despite the fact that his books are very old now, they really don’t feel that old, he must have been way ahead of his time with his style of writing. I’m certainly planning reading some more of his books!🙂

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    • I remember reading “1984” when I was in my teens and thinking “this could never happen.” About the same time I read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. They were my wake-up call that I needed to think creatively, to give consideration to many ideas, and to be more discerning in my thought process.

      I agree – George Orwell is an excellent writer. I would be interested in reading your poem! Your comments add so much to the dialogue – thank you.

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  6. It’s always a question of circumstance and timing. For one thing he was far ahead of his time. I read him when I was quite young, and only much later could I appreciate the depth of what he was trying to have people understand, and what man would eventually be made to endure. The whole of it like big brother is watching etc. Even all these years later we are witness to it and still will not be able to fight the monster who has us in a self destruct mode, and all for his own short life self-serving ambitions under the guise that it is being done for the good of the people, pipe line and all. JJ

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    • I agree – he was ahead of his time. I often wonder what he would write if he lived in our time. And if it would be widely accepted or if his ideas would be marginalized.

      “Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
      ― George Orwell, 1984

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      • So beautifully said, it brings tears to my eyes, and a lump in my throat from feeling the frustration of helplessness.

        Not much to be wondering about, look around and see the marginalize-rs all around us who control the purse strings. Oh how I hate that they have turned me so cynical. Too many years of believing the lies. Thank you for today’s remembering George…JJ

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  7. Orwell was genius. 1984 a classic (as well as Animal Farm). His inherent understanding of human nature and what one does to survive is frighteningly real, for all ages. I so enjoy this site with the great snippets of this and that. Thanks for helping me keep a gray cell firing. Hugs friend.

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  8. I saw a play about George Orwell and his second wife Sonia a couple of years ago, and was delighted to learn why he called it Nineteen Eighty Four – because it was the Year of the Rat, and he was thinking of Big Brother/ Stalin as a rat, when he wrote the book

    Sorry rats…

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    • What an amazing gem. It seems that the “rat” is the sign of charm and aggressiveness. Quite a dynamic combination!!! Your recent post brought me back to 1984 – there is such power in his words.

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