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Big Brother

August 30, 2012

I’m a huge fan of George Orwell, surely one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and recently re-read his masterpiece 1984.  I noted some of Orwell’s prophetic statements – the changing use of language in particular – but also the lottery, infringement of civil liberties, treatment of undesirables in society, state-approved torture, and so on.  I was particularly intrigued by Orwell’s description of how history is fundamentally altered by Winston Smith, the novel’s protagonist, during his every day job where he is responsible for erasing history by simply removing all evidence of someone’s existence…

“The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?”

Here is the first part of the South Bank Show biography of George Orwell which seems to a get a little closer to the real man, rather than the myth that has grown up around this literary giant.  It reveals a flawed man, awkward, even paranoid, whose political views changed considerably over his lifetime, and makes for some fascinating watching.

You can also download a free copy of 1984 in audio book format from Open Culture here.

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