George Orwell 1984 Relevance of Predictions Today Part 1

About George Orwell and his book 1984 a glimpse into a distopian future, relevance of the predictions today and biography and history of Orwell.


"George Orwell" was the professional pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair, a thin, rather ascetic Briton remembered today primarily for his two political fantasies, Animal Farm and 1984. Blair was born in India in 1903. His father worked for the Indian civil service; his mother was the daughter of a French merchant headquartered in Burma. Early in life, Blair was shipped off to boarding school; by his own account, he had a lonely and depressing childhood. He also contracted tuberculosis during this period, although the disease apparently was not diagnosed until some later date. In 1917 he won a scholarship to Eton, one of England's most prestigious prep schools, where he stayed until 1921. In talking about these early years in The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), he said: "I was born into what you may describe as the lower-upper-middle class. The upper-middle class, which had its heyday in the 'eighties and 'nineties, with Kipling as its poet laureate, was a sort of mound of wreckage left behind when the tide of Victorian prosperity receded. Or perhaps it would be better to change the metaphor and describe it not as a mound but a layer--the layer of society lying between pound 2,000 and pound 3,000 a year; my own family was not far from the bottom."

Blair went to Burma in 1922, after joining the Indian Imperial Police. But his experiences as the instrument of governmental bureaucracy disillusioned him, and he resigned at the end of 1927, while on leave in Britain. As he said, "For five years I had been a part of an oppressive system, and it left me with a bad conscience." He had already made his decision to become a writer, and he decided to gain experience by tramping around Europe, doing whatever menial work he could find. At about this time, he also adopted his pseudonym, taken from a river in East Anglia. His experiences in the slums of Paris and London served as the basis for his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). In 1936 Orwell joined the Spanish Republican Army; he was wounded in the struggle, and then proclaimed a "counterrevolutionary" by the Spanish Communists; he barely managed to escape to France. During W. W. II, Orwell worked for the Indian branch of the British Broadcasting Company in London, resigning in 1943 to return to his literary activities. During the intense creative period which followed, he helped edit the Tribune, a Socialist newspaper, contributed a weekly column to the same publication, reviewed books for the Manchester Evening News and other papers, and wrote Animal Farm, a political novel which heavily satirized the Soviet state. The book was immediately successful, Orwell's first best-seller.

In 1947 he retired to a farm in northern Scotland to write 1984, his last book. He was conscious by this time that his ill health presaged only a few more years of life, and part of the book's pessimism is undoubtedly due to the continual struggle with the demon tuberculosis eating away at his insides. The book was a logical outgrowth of his personal experiences with hardship, governmental bureaucracies, and Socialist politics. By the end of his life, Orwell had become virulently anti-Communist, although 1984 is directed as much against Western capitalism as it is against the Soviet Union. Orwell was also greatly concerned with language, especially with how the English language was being debased. In his 1946 article "Politics and the English Language," he notes that "if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." Not long after the publication of 1984 in 1949, Orwell died in a London hospital of an acute hemorrhage, on Jan. 23, 1950.

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