Postmodern Period:

1945-present

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

--George Orwell

                   

 

Featured Author

William GoldingPostmodern_Golding.html
Salman RushdiePostmodern_Rushdie.html

George Orwell (pen name) /

Eric Arthur Blair (real name)

(June 25, 1903

– January 21, 1950)

Eric Arthur Blair was born in Motihari, British, India. Blair wrote using the pen name George Orwell. Orwell had strong beliefs about social injustice and abuse of government power.  You can see these themes in his writing. Orwell wrote fiction and non-fiction including essays and memoirs. Some of Orwell’s essays are still published in English textbooks and studied by high school and university students in the USA.  He is best known for two novels: Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Orwell was educated at British schools, including Eton College.


As a young man Orwell worked in Burma (now Myanmar) as a police officer connected with British India.  In such an exotic location Orwell was able to get material to write about.  One of his most famous texts, the essay “On Shooting an Elephant”, was written as a result of his experiences at that time.


Orwell would later live in Paris and work on his writing.  When he returned to England Orwell would also teach at a boy’s high school.  Orwell had poor health and unfortunately died at the young age of 46 as a result of lung problems.


Orwell’s writing and much of his language remains with people today.  His book Animal Farm, which was written at the time of World War II, is a story about Russian revolutionaries and abuse of political power. The novel addresses the abuses of a Totalitarian government, that means, a system where the government rules every part of society and there is no freedom or equality.  Totalitarian governments are also written about in Nineteen Eighty-FourAnimal Farm is an allegory; its main characters are animals and it is set on a farm. However, readers can quickly understand what the characters represent as the animals are divided into different classes. The most famous line from this novel is: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” which comments on how the small group of elite in society get most of the benefits.


Many themes and expressions from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four are still popular even today.  The book, written in 1949, predicted a future (1984) in which government controlled the people, even as so far as to what they could say and think. The expression “Big Brother” or “Big Brother is watching you” was introduced to portray the surveillance of people in the novel.  It is still used today as surveillance technology has improved and there are many security cameras all around us. Newspeak, Double Think and Thought Police were also introduced in the novel.  Orwell’s influence has been so great that even the word, Orwellian, makes people think about governments or practices that limit people’s freedom.

First published in 1984. George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was made into a movie in 1984. The novel and movie portray a scary future: a dystopia. A Utopia is a story about an ideal world: U=good + topos=place. Dystopia is the opposite.

In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, there is not much hope for a classless society in the future. The graph below is a breakdown of the social classes in the novel.

The flag in Animal Farm would certainly look familiar to readers. People would just need to replace the hoof with a hammer.

Below is a trailer for the movie version of Animal Farm. Like the novel, it shows what can go wrong in society when greed takes over and power is abused.  A lesson that is very relevant even today.

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