Friday, June 11, 2010


Eric Blair, pseudonym George Orwell, was a master writer and story teller. He wrote his first poem at the age of four or five, by dictation to his mother. In the last sixteen years of his life (born in 1903 - died in 1950) he wrote nine major books and 700 essays and articles.

In the essay WHY I WRITE, published in 1947, Orwell says:

"...In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties. As it is I have been forced into becoming a sort of pamphleteer. First I spent five years in an unsuitable profession (The Indian Imperial Police, in Burma), and then I underwent poverty and the sense of failure. This increased my natural hatred of authority and made me for the first time fully aware of the existence of the working classes, and the job in Burma had given me some understanding of the nature of imperialism: but these experiences were not enough to give me an accurate political orientation. Then came Hitler, the Spanish Civil War, etc. By the end of 1935 I had still failed to reach a firm decision. The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity."

"...I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. ...Of late years I have tried to write less picturesquely and more exactly. ANIMAL FARM was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole. I hope to write another fairly soon. It is bound to be a failure, every book is a failure, but I do know with some clarity what kind of book I want to write. ..."

As we all know, the book Orwell went on to write was "1984". It has since been translated into 62 languages and it, along with ANIMAL FARM, had sold more than 40 million copies by 1984. In the USA it sold 1,000 copies a day that year. Quoting Orwell again from WHY I WRITE:

"...All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. ..."

Not only figuratively but also literally was the writing of "1984" like a bout of some painful illness for George Orwell. Throughout its writing he was fighting tuberculosis and was at times admitted to the hospital where his typewriter was taken away from him. Undaunted he sat in bed, propped up on pillows, and wrote in longhand with ball-point pen. He was administered a newly developed drug to which he developed a severe allergic reaction. His skin flaked, his mouth became painfully ulcerated, his hair and nails fell out. After several months recuperating in the sanitorium Orwell returned to his home on the remote Scottish island of Jura, one of the most inaccessible spots in the British Isles, and finished writing "1984" in December 1948. He then went immediately back into hospital and was never again healthy enough to be discharged. "1984" was published in June 1949 and Orwell died seven months later on January 21st, 1950, at the age of 46.

In "1984" George Orwell describes how a hierarchical world tyranny is set up, how it stays in power, how it treats its people, and what life is like living under such a system. "1984" is in fact a coded blueprint for world tyranny, laying bare its structure and exposing its components.

Orwell wrote "1984" for us, the future, in the hope we would recognize the signs and symptoms of tyrannical world government and prevent its establishment in our world. Let's make sure he did not write in vain. ~ Jackie Jura