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Introduction to 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' - George Orwell
Transcript of Introduction to 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' - George Orwell
Elective 2: Intertextual Perspectives
‘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… 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.’ – ‘Why I Write’ – George Orwell (1946)
Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere. The black- moustachio’d face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own.’ p. 4
‘The Ministry of Truth—Minitrue in Newspeak—
was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, three hundred metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH’ p. 6
‘He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail figure. The meagreness of his body merely emphasised by the overalls that were the uniform of the Party. His hair was very fair, his face naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.’ p. 4
‘The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in… And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus at one moment Winston’s hatred was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against Big Brother, the Party and the Thought Police; and at such moments his heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian of truth and sanity in a world of lies.’ p. 16
If there is hope,
, it lies in the proles.
‘And he was shouting frantically, over and over:
‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’’ p. 300
• ‘What happens to you here is for ever. Understand that in advance. We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.’ p. 269
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.
But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.’ p. 311