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George Orwell Introduction

What George Orwell did... and why you should care

Big Brother is watching you!

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others!

These and so many more ideas that shape the way we talk about politics came from the pen of Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell. When people speak out against oppressive regimes or argue that the government has gone too far in snooping into their private lives, they tend to invoke ideas that Orwell first articulated sixty years ago. Orwell used his sharp wit and voracious intellectual curiosity to skewer everything from the atomic bomb to misuse of the English language. He traveled the globe in his quest to understand more about how the world works (destroying his health in the process; after a lifetime of health trouble, he succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 46). His experiences made him a passionate supporter of socialism and an equally vociferous opponent of totalitarianism. His masterpiece novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four remain the quintessential arguments against the authoritarian state.

Orwell's goal, as he put it in an essay explaining what drove him to write, was "to make political writing into an art." He staunchly refused to veer into hysteria or inaccuracy in order to get his point across, and argued that if a book was boring, it didn't matter what point the writer had to make in the first place. His name and his "Orwellian" creations are frequently invoked today in ways that would probably make real George Orwell cringe. He had no desire to be a prophet or an idol. In the discipline of his craft, the originality of his ideas, and his courage to write what he believed, George Orwell convinces us (and please, George, forgive the cliché) that the pen really is mightier than the sword.

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