1984 Orwell Critical Essays

1984 Orwell Critical Essays-23
With that in mind one can read Orwell on Dickens (a man “who fights in the open and is not frightened …

With that in mind one can read Orwell on Dickens (a man “who fights in the open and is not frightened …

(It’s worth noting here that, for all his combativeness, Orwell is far from a puritanical scold.

One would be hard pressed, for instance, to read his unsentimental homage to the English pub in the essay “The Moon Under Water,” with its sweet, unanticipated ending, and not respond with something perilously close to “A Orwell never apologized for his politics — specifically, he did not apologize for being a Democratic Socialist in the postwar British vein — but instead bolstered his beliefs by exploring everything, absolutely everything, through a political lens.

Creatures who believe that the diktats of an unhinged leader are not only legitimate, but “will not be questioned” by the hoi polloi.

Consider this passage, from the 1941 essay, “England Your England”: One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty.

“[O]ne can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality,” he declared.

“Good prose is like a windowpane.” With the possible exception of “Write what you know,” that’s as compact a literary credo as one is likely to find.

Donald Trump and his advisers grasped this fact; his opponent did not. It was in the often-anthologized essay, “Why I Write,” that Orwell came closest to a distillation of his responsibilities as a politically engaged writer: Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 [i.e., roughly the time when he fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, and got a bullet through the neck for his troubles] has been written, directly or indirectly, AGAINST totalitarianism and FOR democratic socialism, as I understand it.

It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects.

But it’s precisely because it’s a universal modern impulse that patriotism (or rather its crazy inbred cousin, nationalism) carries such force.

In many countries, an intense, xenophobia-fueled patriotism is the only expression of even nominal power available to the poor, the disenfranchised, those left behind.

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