Why Do We Still Read George Orwell?

Neil McBeath

Abstract


This paper approaches Orwell’s writing from the perspective of the 21st century and asks whether Animal Farm, his satirical fable of the USSR, and the dystopian vision of Nineteen Eighty-Four remain relevant. It dismisses the suggestion that these last two novels can be regarded as the natural culmination of Orwell’s earlier work, principally by examining these other writings demonstrates that there is no natural trajectory. The paper also refers to key dates in Orwell’s life and comments on his career at those particular moments. Orwell remains relevant, the paper concludes, because the forces of oppression he so vehemently opposed remain potent today. The residue of Stalinism survives in some countries, while others have become tyrannies where personality cults can flourish. Political doublethink still exists. The very fact that the adjective “Orwellian” remains current in English, and that his metaphors have entered mainstream discourse, are further indications that his work remains important. Far from being a writer of the 1930s, Orwell has been able to transcend both distance and time.

 


Keywords


Relevance, Satire, Orwellian, Derivative, Universal

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jass.vol5iss2pp15-27

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Copyright (c) 2017 Neil McBeath

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