Wednesday, October 17, 2007

III. George Orwell [Critical and Political Writing]


1. Critical and Political Writing
It is also very interesting to learn George Orwell’s writing with the combination of both political and criticized way to describe human characteristic.

He believed that his early literary activity was partly the result of a lonely boyhood. He even wrote
I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and
holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think
from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with
the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. Critical
Essays, 2.

His novels were pretty much no focusing into particular nationality or race except looking inside closely to the varieties of different cultures and characters of people in a way of experiencing to criticize about it. In fact, he was a true rebellion escaping from the boundary of imperialism.

His political and critical writings were quite distinct in his later books after Burmese Days, 1934, Coming Up For Air, 1939. Those early books actually characterized the desire and ability of him to break through lies and pretense to find out the truth about a situation or a person. He was also very conscious of the ways in which language could be used to hide the truth, and he shows how government can used language to deceive the people in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). This book describes a future world where every word and action is seen and controlled by the state, which had developed a kind of television that can watch people in their own homes, and is changing the language so that the only words left are those for objects and ideas that the government wants the people to know about.

And also quite fascinate enough to find the similar matter that his conscious of using words in Burmese Days (1934). The way of putting Burmese words in that book could lead readers to meet the understanding of the actual degree of expression but it would quite difficult to have an actual picture of certain expression except Burmese readers. But his usages were more precise and reality of what truly existed and happened in the real world.

For Orwell, the quality of a language suggests the quality of the society that uses it, so that a government controls a language in order to control completely the people who use it. Orwell recognized the important part that the state must play in a fair society, but he also felt that all human beings need to be able to be private sometimes so that they can be themselves.

In the plot of Burmese Days, it revolves around the poignant figure of John Flory, a manager of a logging firm based in the fictional town of Kyauktada in Upper Burma. Flory has been in Burma for eight years, speaks fluent Burmese and Hindustani, and has a rare admiration for the locals and their ways. Although there are a handful of other British residents in Kyauktada, Flory feels alienated by his own kind who “Can be at ease in a foreign country only when they are disparaging the inhabitants.” Flory therefore keeps his opinions to himself during obligatory visits to the whites-only club, where the British meet daily to drink and curse the insolence and ingratitude of the natives. His only real friend is Dr.Veraswami, and Indian physician whose enthusiasm for British rule.

The parallel characterizing of Dr.Veraswami and European Club members with Mr.Flory demonstrated how George Orwell saw through the society under the management of Imperialism. Every conversation with Mr.Flory to Club Members and Dr.Veraswami gave the readers to make their own judgment but he obviously put the idea of what he wanted to say over the lie of human beings behind the mask. It was clear enough to see how colonization absorbed all the natural resources from Burma and spoiled the local people instead of educating.

Mr.Flory tried to avoid the worst excesses of this world, but to gain any value from the people around him he has to play their games. Humans are social creatures, and Orwell recognized the terrible price that can exact on us when the society we live in has basic premises that are false to fact. In the case of colonial Burma, the central false premise is that there's any basic difference between black and white. Both oppressor and oppressed believe implicitly that the English are more worthy, more capable, more real than then Burmese or Indians. U Po Kyin, the Burmese villain of the piece, was described as having "grasped that his own people were no match for this race of giants i.e. the British." Burmese Days,p.2 l.4.

After reading Burmese Days, one can easily see the political situation of Burma during colonial era how local people had been inferior while foreigners were being superior. George Orwell gave the vivid image of those situations through Burmese Days.

George Orwell's writing covers a politically very chaotic period. His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, was published in 1933, only 16 years after the Russian Revolution. Till 1949, when Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, the world would see the Spanish Civil War, nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy, stalinism and the Moscow show trials in the USSR, and World WarⅡ.

Most of Orwell’s best writing is political and he is certainly the most important political writer of the post-war years. He fought in the Spanish Civil War (1935 – 37) and wrote about his experiences in Homage to Catalonia, and for many years he wrote essays and articles for newspapers and magazines which were often on political subjects.

Perhaps his most famous work in a political allegory, Animal Farm (1945), which tells the story of a political revolution that went wrong. The animals on a farm, led by the pigs, drive out their master Jones and take control of the farm, but the purity of their political ides is soon destroyed, and they end by being just as greedy and dishonest as the farmer whom they drove out:
“Meanwhile life was hard. … Once again all rations were
reduced, except those of the pigs and the dogs. A too rigid
equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been
contrary to the principles of Animalism. In any case he had
no difficulty in proving to the other animals that they were
not in reality short of foods, whatever the appearances might
be. For the time being, certainly, it had been found
necessary to make a readjustment of rations (Squealer
always spoke of it as a ‘readjustment’, never as a
‘reduction’) .The animals believed every word of it. Truth to
tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their
memories. They knew what life nowadays was harsh and bare,
that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they
were usually working when they were not asleep. But
doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad
to believe so.” Animal Farm ,74.

As we have seen, the intention driving many writers this century has been the wish to describe things as they really are without being influenced by tradition or convention. George Orwell was one of them staying out of the conventional circle and against all the plotted arrangement by the traditional factors.

George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, give picture of a future world, but his interest is less in the scientific advances that have been made than the purposes these are used for. He is only interested in the effect on the human personality and relation among the society how people behave and bring the form of making human world.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is the conclusion of George Orwell's writing, both because it was the last book he wrote because of his premature death, and because this was the book that most of Orwell's writing had been a preparation to. Politically Orwell belonged to the Left, and many Leftists accused him of joining the reactionaries with Nineteen Eighty-Four because the book was so obviously anti-communist. But anti-communism is not necessarily a very precise concept as one can be anti-communist in various ways and for various reasons.

Many of his political ideas were never thought through properly. An anarchist would claim that Orwell's theory is a poor one, because he only wants to do away with authorities. Orwell has no constructive ideas about a different social structure where the reasons for crime would be removed or at least reduced.

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