Friday, March 10, 2006

George Orwell

I highly recommend reading Down & Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, especially if you've only read his two big novels. I dare say his non-fiction is much much better. The former book deals with his days of poverty and squalor as a twenty-something drifter in the title cities, while the latter is a first-hand account of his time in the International Brigade during the Spanis Civil War, and makes an excellent companion to Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Also of note is the essay "Politics and the English Language," which analyzes how the syntax of abstraction and detachment serves the interests of power and pbscures the truth of historical events. The sad thing is that the perversion of language that he describes has now all but permeated modern discourse, where the New York Times can, with a straight face and in the interest of "news," claim to be reporting on the President's speech and actions while merely parroting back his own words.

In any case, you can find any of the above works completely free online at this site. At least the Internet is good for something.

1 comment:

Andreas said...

"Politics and the English Language" is so true - especially in science where everybody is just tacking together meaningless phrases instead of choosing words...
Sad that it got only worse since Orwell's time.