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1984: Historical Lens Criticism

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on 5 September 2013

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Transcript of 1984: Historical Lens Criticism

Lens : Historical Criticism
Nineteen Eighty- Four
Written in 1948
Aftermath of WWII
Communism spreading rapidly throughout the world
The Soviet Union was gaining power and prominence
The Cold War was just starting, escalating global tensions

Application: Biographical
Born Eric Arthur Blair in India in 1903
Middle-class family
He grew up in England and then joined Indian Imperial Police
Quit to become a writer after being disillusioned with British imperialism
Disguised himself and lived amongst the poor in Paris
Traveled to Spain to fight for Republicans against Franco’s Nationalists but was forced to flee in fear of Soviet-backed communists, turning Orwell into a life long anti-Stalinist
Democratic socialist
Outspoken anti-Soviet
“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism.” (George Orwell “Why I Write”)

Application: Technology
Application: Bolshevik Revolution (WWI)
Bolshevik Revolution occurred in 1917 in Russia
Bolsheviks gained support of the proletariats and took power from Provisional Government made up of the elite
Civil War (1918 to 1920) between Bolsheviks and anti-Bolsheviks
Bolsheviks called themselves Communists
State distributed grains and other resources
Government became totalitarian
Cheka formed after a decree issued by Lenin
Trotsky denounced as enemy
"Goldstein...had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on level with Big Brother himself..."
Application: Hitler and Stalin (WWII)
Hitler and Stalin unified the peoples' emotions to create a uniform hatred, just like people in the Two Minutes Hate in Oceania
Privacy: Hitler and Stalin used Special Police and spies, just like the Thought Police and TV in 1984

Hitler and Stalin both had photos edited to remove all traces of a person whom the undercover police had made disappear. In the same way, the Ministry of Truth removes all evidence of people who found to be subversive against the government.
Hitler Youth and Young Pioneers (Stalin) used to brainwash kids like Spy's Corps
His relation to history reminds readers just how impactful dehumanization can be
To Sum it All UP!
As historicists, we are convinced that history is inextricably linked to literature and the arts. The idea of a highly empowered government stripping its citizens of their humanity is reflected on through the Orwell’s own experiences, the progression of technology, and the despotic rulers of both World Wars. He uses this link to history to drive home the idea that his idea is not far-fetched; rather it is a reality that is much closer than everyone would like to believe.
Brain Exercise
•Orwell's 1984 seems to be, in general, a warning against Socialism, however, he was an ardent Socialist himself. He once said that the "only regime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a Socialist regime". The logical conclusion would be that Orwell was not an opponent of Socialism, but an opponent of totalitarianism. Based on examples from history such as the Bolshevik Revolution, do you think that Orwell's vision of a Socialist regime is plausible? Or is he just being paradoxical in what he says?
Television becomes important during the 1940s as resolution increases; Radio was developed by the 1920s.

Several companies were involved in pioneering wireless technology in the 1940s such as the cell phone, made in 1947
People thought it would have a negative influence and encouraged staying indoors.
Atomic Bomb completed in 1945
radar and sonar, computers, and Jet engines created due to WWII
The first true multi-track audio recording system wasn’t invented until years after the war, but the underlying technology came from captured Nazi electronics
"Winston was able to remain outside the range of the telescreen, so far as sight went. He could be heard, of course, but so long as he stayed in his present position he could not be seen" (6).
Full transcript