Presentation on theme: "George Orwell’s Life and Times and how they shaped his anti-totalitarian message."— Presentation transcript:
George Orwell’s Life and Times and how they shaped his anti-totalitarian message.
Eric Blair was born in 1903 in the then British colony of India, where his father worked for the Opium Department of the Civil Service. Blair’s early experiences in India, a place where he returned to work briefly as a policeman, helped shape his ideas about Imperialism and Colonialism.
Eric Blair attended an English “Public School” (which is, confusingly, the same thing as an American Private school), and then Eton College; he was well known for questioning authority, which did not make him popular among teachers.
1937: outbreak of Spanish Civil War, seen by many as a precursor to World War II. Spanish Civil War: Franco (Fascist) vs. a loose consortium of Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, and Labor Sympathizers. Blair joined the POUM (a Socialist group) and was shot in the neck by a Fascist sniper. After the war, the Communist Party turned against their former allies and imprisoned and murdered thousands of Socialists and Anarchists; Blair and his wife barely escaped.
SOCIALISM COMMUNISM “Bottom-Up” Government Belief that the WORKERS should own means of production – every worker has a stake in their company. Belief that each should do “work according to their means” and earn “according to their need”. Considered “Leftist” “Top-Down” Government The GOVERNMENT owns all means of production. Government is headed by a dictator, who is in control of every facet of the state. Theoretically a temporary solution to eventually get to actual socialism. Often mistakenly referred to as “Leftist,” although it’s closer to Fascism/ Totalitarianism than to Socialism.
Thanks to his experiences in Spain, Orwell was a self- proclaimed Socialist and an anti-Communist. Many today still consider Orwell to be “Right Wing,” although this comes from a misunderstanding of what Communism is. The confusion comes from a conflation of the terms “Socialism” and “Communism”.
The Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris in London dealt with Orwell’s experiences exploring the plight of the poor. Homage to Catalonia details Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War and his coming to terms with the difference between the Socialist ideal and the reality of Communism.
Animal Farm is a novella meant as an allegory for the Russian Revolution and the failure of Communist Russia. Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell’s best-known work, details many dangers in contemporary life.
Orwell’s essays are probably his most acclaimed work; topics range from Imperialism to Linguistics to Pop Culture. Orwell was also a BBC Radio host during World War II, hosting shows that tried to garner support from India; he felt uncomfortable about taking part in propaganda.
Blair/Orwell died of tuberculosis in January 1950. He is still considered one of the most important writers of the 20 th Century, mostly due to his outspoken criticism of abuses of power as well as his devotion to truth and honesty. Nineteen Eighty-Four was named one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 novels of the 20 th Century; Orwell was named The London Times’ second most important British writer from 1945-present.
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