Tell People What They Do Not Want to Hear


Excerpted from Writer'sAlmanac.org

It's the birthday of the man who wrote Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949), George Orwell, born Eric Blair in a small village in Bengal, India (1903). He spent a few years living in poverty in London and Paris, working as a dishwasher and hanging around with hobos and prostitutes, and he wrote his first book about the experience, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). Worried about what his parents would think of the book, he published it under the pseudonym George Orwell, the name he wrote under for the rest of his life.

He spent the last years of his life writing 1984 (1949), about a future in which England has become a totalitarian state run by an anonymous presence known only as Big Brother. He knew he didn't have much time left to write the book, so he wrote constantly, even when his doctors forbade him to work. They took away his typewriter, and when he switched to a ballpoint pen, they put his arm in plaster.

When he finished it, he told his publisher that 1984 was too dark a novel to make much money, but it became an immediate best seller. He died a few months after it was first published, but it has since been translated into 62 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies. With all of his work still in print in so many different languages, critics have estimated that every year 1 million people read George Orwell for the first time.

Orwell said, "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns ... instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink."

And he said, "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

Comments

Anonymous said…
while I find Shepard fairey to be a bit of a redundant hack. I think these covers for the reissues of the book to be quite nice.

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/07/03/shepard-faireys-orwe.html

If I wasn't totally wrapped up in super geeky sci-fi novels right now, I'd go buy these just to look cool.

-MK
Anonymous said…
this is a better link.

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