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The George Orwell thread.:

 1 Midnight Rambler, Tue, 27th Dec '11 9:11:33 AM from Germania Inferior
Pony for nothing, and your mares for free
Discuss George Orwell here.

Ah, George Orwell. One of the most well-known intellectuals of the twentieth century. Mythologised, Post Mortem Converted, quoted a lot (often selectively), put on a hundred different pedestals and taken off again. This is a thread in which to share your thoughts on this man and his works.

I'll start: For me, Orwell is a major source of inspiration. I've read more by him than by any other writer:

I write political essays myself (link - alas for most of you, they're in Dutch), and in that, I've been hugely influenced by Orwell's style and principles. He also influenced my ideas. For example, I used to be a very principled Pacifist; Homage to Catalonia (which I read when I was 15 or 16, I think) got me off of that, and convinced me that there were things worth literally fighting for.

In short, I'm a huge fan.
Any sufficiently advanced technology was either invented or predicted by Nikola Tesla.
 2 Loid, Tue, 27th Dec '11 2:08:53 PM from Eastern Standard Time
Yes.

Anyway, I've read Animal Farm and it was great. By the end, I found myself feeling terrible about how things ended up going. I haven't really read anything else by him, but he's definitely on my list.
"Dr. Strangeloid, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Cleanlink" - thespacephantom
 3 Midnight Rambler, Tue, 27th Dec '11 2:36:29 PM from Germania Inferior
Pony for nothing, and your mares for free
[up] Funny, I felt the exact same way after reading Animal Farm. The book really creeped me out, because the original revolutionary ideas were so beautiful, they were crushed so thoroughly, and what came in their place was so horrible.

Anyway, if he's "on your list", I'd suggest starting with Homage to Catalonia. It's one of the most beautiful and fascinating books I've ever read.
Any sufficiently advanced technology was either invented or predicted by Nikola Tesla.
 4 Loid, Tue, 27th Dec '11 7:37:55 PM from Eastern Standard Time
As a Socialist, I was devastated. Given that he is one, I think he wrote it like that intentionally.

Also, I should've gotten some of his books on Christmas. Anyway, I'll see if there's any in my library.
"Dr. Strangeloid, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Cleanlink" - thespacephantom
I read Animal Farm twice, once when I was too young to understand the political metaphor, and once when I had finished studying the revolutions in Russia, complete with some Stalin and Lenin. Both times were magical. So simple, so brilliant and so sad.
Morituri te Salutamus
At the risk of being called a troll... I think that, while he was obviously right about most things politically, his work wasn't actually of great literary merit. I find it kind of annoying the way people shout about him as if he had some amazing skill as a writer; his trick was basically making very obvious points in a very solemn way.

edited 1st Jan '12 4:46:03 PM by Bajazeth

"For though thy cannon shook the city-wall,
My heart did never quake, nor courage faint."
Three-Puppet Saluter
And creating a vast lexicon of instantly recognizable metaphors for political discourse - Big Brother and Snowball and Eurasia/Eastasia and thoughtcrime and how some animals are more equal than others. In a world of authors whose points, like Uncle Tom, get warped out of all recognition, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Well! Is she here? Is Alberta GRA here?

C'mon, guys, DO IT.
 8 Flyboy, Sun, 1st Jan '12 10:48:18 PM from the United States
Decemberist
I've read both 1984 and Animal Farm, but I comprehended Animal Farm much better because I was older when I read it.

I actually own a copy of 1984. I should reread it.
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
 9 Midnight Rambler, Mon, 9th Jan '12 12:25:48 AM from Germania Inferior
Pony for nothing, and your mares for free
At the risk of being called a troll... I think that, while he was obviously right about most things politically, his work wasn't actually of great literary merit. I find it kind of annoying the way people shout about him as if he had some amazing skill as a writer; his trick was basically making very obvious points in a very solemn way.

Yes, because that's just the kind of writer he was. Orwell was more of an essayist than a novelist, and even his fictional works are rather Anvilicious Author Tracts. So yeah, if you read 1984 or Animal Farm for the story or the characters, you'll probably be disappointed. But that doesn't make him a bad writer; he was pretty damn good at writing Author Tracts, and if you read his works as such, they become a lot more impressive.

Try reading some of his essays. I'd recommend Looking Back on the Spanish War or Politics and the English Language.
Any sufficiently advanced technology was either invented or predicted by Nikola Tesla.
 10 Firebert, Mon, 9th Jan '12 2:48:08 AM from Somewhere in Illinois
That One Guy
Animal Farm frustrated me, which I suppose was the point.
 11 Erock, Mon, 9th Jan '12 7:02:15 PM from Toronto
Proud Canadian
1984 has one of the most stealthiest and best hidden happy endings ever. Just read it for English. I can explain this, but it would be in spoilers, and it sort of involve doublethink in itself.

I'm assuming you want an explantation for this.

edited 9th Jan '12 7:11:55 PM by Erock

If you don't like a single Frank Ocean song, you have no soul.
 12 Imipolex G, Mon, 9th Jan '12 7:23:38 PM from all our yesterdays
frozen in time
I read both Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm and greatly preferred the former. I guess I prefer straight-out dystopia over allegory.

I'm assuming you want an explanation for this.

Maybe...
no one will notice that I changed this
 13 Erock, Mon, 9th Jan '12 8:00:01 PM from Toronto
Proud Canadian
The book and the Brotherhood are fabrications of the Party. Realistically they would surpress and kill any rebel completely. The Brotherhood myth allows them to trap dissidents. The rumours spread by Party Members tell of evil capitalism and "freedom" to get dissidents interested, and to scare the rest of people. The book tells of the three superpowers ultimately being unbeatable, and the war is just an excuse. But... why would they something so undermining of the message, so controversial? To implicate the readers permantently. These people understand that what they are doing is wrong, then the Ministry of Love does its magic and flips you. Winston learns falsely that the Party is fighting a needless war that is unlosable and unwinnable so dissidents do not try to sabotage or defect. Winston is neutralized without any mark - as noone really knows anyone intimately, they merely see someone come back. Killing them would make them martyrs; instead they are simply converted. This eliminates any oppositon in Party members.

Therefore only proof that Eastasia and Eurasia aren't democracies comes from the Party. You can probaly see whrre I'm going with this: ''Eastasia and Eurasia are actually an-national alliances of varying degress of democracies. Much in the way the diluge of fleeing German scientists enriched A Merican science, the flight of millions of Westerners enriches Asia. They don't have to be perfectly free, but they are decidedly not Big Brother. Capitalist America proved to be much more efficient in industrial terms in WW2 (despite what you might think) and the two superpowers outrank Oceania in population. Now, the book claims they are run just like the Party, just ling Ingsoc. That actually benefits the Party - the dissidents are convinced that nowhere is better off. It's a tactic used in North Korea.

Now, the last scene. The war effort is in trouble: Eurasia is winning. Then, out of nowhere a miarculous counterattack is formed and Oceania is victorius. The crowd accepts this instantly. Obviously, one or both of these things is false. The likely lie is about the counterattack. In actuality, the war really did fluctuate in fourth zone, but now Oceania is actually losing. It's initial brutality and organization lead to early victories, but it's malaise and lack of entreprise is the Party's downfall. However, the Party certainly can not admit that, so they keep the lies gong to continue their power as long as they can. Why would they tell of the lost ground in the first place? They have to set up the climax, the victory. The counteratatack might have actually happened and failed horribly. No matter like North Korea, they'll keep the lies going.

So, what does this all mean? This means that a degenerating, increasingly inefficent superpower is losing to two nations. Instead of diverting all resources to the war effort, however, the Party draw another historical parellel that of Nazi Germany. The Nazi regime, when loss on the Eastern Front was growing more and more likely, actually doubled down on Holocaust efforts. Oceania at the point of Winston's imprisonment is spending enormous power on spying (those telescreens definitely don't power themselves) and torturing their citizens. Like the Holocaust, this diverts from the war effort. Like Nazi Germany in 1945, the Party is hellbent on brainwashing as many people as possible, to retain emotional power over the people even as their power ends. People this insane are not uncommon in totalitarian governments. The Party s really in it's death throes, and the book (not a new invention by 1984) is it's device to catch and convert any dissidents. It's a brilliant scheme and very well hidden.

Holy fuck did I just type all this.

edited 9th Jan '12 8:14:20 PM by Erock

If you don't like a single Frank Ocean song, you have no soul.
 14 Hopeless Situation Warrior, Mon, 9th Jan '12 8:04:25 PM from Canada. The middle part.
[up] That's a really interesting interpretation. Good thinking.

It's kind of nice to think that the Party will fall and its citizens liberated, even if that may not be what Orwell intended.

edited 9th Jan '12 8:05:08 PM by HopelessSituationWarrior

"Weird doors open. People fall into things."
 15 Erock, Mon, 9th Jan '12 8:07:51 PM from Toronto
Proud Canadian
It really is. It's realistic too, the system is simly unsustainable. At leat this was it's defeated and doesn't implode into civil war.

edited 10th Jan '12 4:58:40 AM by Erock

If you don't like a single Frank Ocean song, you have no soul.
 16 Firebert, Mon, 9th Jan '12 11:31:38 PM from Somewhere in Illinois
That One Guy
I never thought of it that way. That's nice. smile
 17 Nicknacks, Tue, 10th Jan '12 4:23:00 AM from Land Down Under
Ding-ding! Going down...
I'm not sure I find your argument convincing — it relies on a few hypotheticals. It could be true, it could not be. No one could know. Winston certainly doesn't — he dies in the grip of some crazy manic fever — and the Party isn't likely to bow out gracefully either should it actually be losing.

I found 1984 a massively frustrating read. I suppose it's been so ingrained into popular culture already, that even before I read the book I had a strong idea about what it was about. One chapter in, and I knew how it would end, and I didn't want to take that journey with the text. It was so soul crushing, I could barely read it.

I wonder if that was the same for first time readers? Would the narrative path be so obvious for them from the start?

Animal Farm I just found kind of funny. I guess I just can't take animals seriously as allegory. I did like how it was the anti-Charlotte's Web — don't trust the writing on the wall! Don't trust people who think they know what's best for you! There's no benevolence to be found there.
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Proud Canadian
Well of course it relies on a few hypotheticals. But a lot of that is simply disregarding what the Party tells Winston and reversing it.

Another point: if the two other superpowers were really communist countries, then the memebers of all three parties would have decided to be much smarter and simply declare wars on invisible rebels in far-off streches of each nations borders. The vast majority of people would not care if the enemy was foreigners or armed thought-criminals. Hell, the three parties might as well merge if they were all like Ingsoc. And Eastasia and Eurasia are never heard to fight. In reality, the party doesn't ant the people to realize it's being doubleteamed and losing.

edited 10th Jan '12 4:58:30 AM by Erock

If you don't like a single Frank Ocean song, you have no soul.
 19 Nicknacks, Tue, 10th Jan '12 7:10:33 PM from Land Down Under
Ding-ding! Going down...
I think you're making the mistake of applying logic to a system that's inherently illogical. The system of absolute power as enforced in 1984 is basically purposeless except in its attempts to stabilise itself.
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Her with the hat
Guys, you are missing the most obvious way in which 1984 doesn't have an entirely downer ending: The Appendix on Newspeak talks about Newspeak, Oceania and the Party in entirely past tense.

edited 11th Jan '12 5:44:39 AM by Drakyndra

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Three-Puppet Saluter
Another thought: the Inner Party, by design, is entirely made up of sadistic brutes. Sadistic brutes are not well-known for giving a lot of thought to what happens after they die. I think somewhere along the line, the successors would either turn on one another, or reach a tipping point of getting damn well bored of playing The Sims on Zap The Pool Ladder Mode all the time. Nah, they'd turn on each other, but I just had to state the latter scenario because the Inner Party mindset is so alien to me that that's the best I can do.
Well! Is she here? Is Alberta GRA here?

C'mon, guys, DO IT.
 22 Midnight Rambler, Thu, 12th Jan '12 3:25:56 AM from Germania Inferior
Pony for nothing, and your mares for free
@Erock: I think you're forgetting that whatever the Party says about the war effort has little to no bearing on reality. They're not just lying about things, they're making things up altogether.

@Drakyndra: Orwell Jossed the 'the appendix is in the past tense so it's not a Downer Ending' theory.
Any sufficiently advanced technology was either invented or predicted by Nikola Tesla.
Her with the hat
[up]Really, when did he do that? The Other Wiki mentions it's a current academic debate, but doesn't quote any stance specific to Orwell on the interpretation.
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 24 Nicknacks, Fri, 13th Jan '12 2:57:34 AM from Land Down Under
Ding-ding! Going down...
Death of the author means that a creator can dismiss a claim, but people are still allowed to argue. A term coined by and for academics if ever I saw one.
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Orwell was an acute observer and had a very simple and direct prose. I always like that on an author.
 
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