Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.
In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma from 1922-1927 and fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1937. Orwell was severely wounded when he was shot through his throat. Later the organization that he had joined when he joined the Republican cause, The Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), was painted by the pro-Soviet Communists as a Trotskyist organization (Trotsky was Joseph Stalin’s enemy) and disbanded. Orwell and his wife were accused of “rabid Trotskyism” and tried in absentia in Barcelona, along with other leaders of the POUM, in 1938. However by then they had escaped from Spain and returned to England.
Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary editor of the Tribune, a weekly left-wing magazine. He was a prolific polemical journalist, article writer, literary critic, reviewer, poet and writer of fiction, and, considered perhaps the twentieth century’s best chronicler of English culture.
Orwell is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949) and the satirical novella Animal Farm (1945) — they have together sold more copies than any two books by any other twentieth-century author. His 1938 book Homage to Catalonia, an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, together with numerous essays on politics, literature, language, and culture, are widely acclaimed.
Orwell’s influence on contemporary culture, popular and political, continues decades after his death. Several of his neologisms, along with the term “Orwellian” — now a byword for any oppressive or manipulative social phenomenon opposed to a free society — have entered the vernacular.
As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.
Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
In the face of pain there are no heroes.
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.
We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
Big Brother is Watching You.
If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.
Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.
Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.
The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.