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George Orwell Now!

Preface by Richard Blair, Son of George Orwell

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Edited By Richard Lance Keeble

George Orwell remains an iconic figure today – even though he died in 1950. His dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four depicts a Big Brother society in which the state intrudes into the most intimate details of people’s lives – and, not surprisingly, it became a constant reference point after Edward Snowden’s revelations. The word «Orwellian» is constantly in the media – used either as a pejorative adjective to evoke totalitarian terror or as a complimentary adjective to mean «displaying outspoken intellectual honesty». Interest in Orwell’s life and writings – globally – continues unabated.
Beginning with a preface by Richard Blair, Orwell’s son, George Orwell Now! brings together thirteen chapters by leading international scholars in four thematic sections:
• Peter Marks on Orwell and the history of surveillance studies; Florian Zollmann on Nineteen Eighty-Four in 2014; Henk Vynckier on Orwell’s collecting project; and Adam Stock on ‘Big Brother’s Literary Offspring’
• Paul Anderson «In Defence of Bernard Crick»; Luke Seaber on the «London Section of Down and Out in Paris and London»; John Newsinger on «Orwell’s Socialism»; and Philip Bounds on «Orwell and the Anti-Austerity Left in Britain»
• Marina Remy on the «Writing of Otherness in Burmese Days and Keep the Aspidistra Flying»; Sreya Mallika Datta and Utsa Mukherjee on «Reassessing Ambivalence in Orwell’s Burma»; and Shu-chu Wei on Orwell’s Animal Farm alongside Chen Jo-his’s Mayor Yin
• Tim Crook on «Orwell and the Radio Imagination»; and editor Richard Lance Keeble on «Orwell and the War Reporter’s Imagination»
Peter Stansky, in an afterword, argues that Orwell is now more relevant than ever before.
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Chapter Twelve: George Orwell and the Radio Imagination

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CHAPTER TWELVE

George Orwell AND THE Radio Imagination

TIM CROOK



INTRODUCTION

George Orwell’s literary and professional life was situated in the radio age of the twentieth century. His experience of the media was an everyday world in which radio was the dominant mass medium of electronic communication. His death in 1950 marked the year when television’s competition for audiences and power was intensifying to a tipping point of overtaking radio.

Orwell was connected through his literary and cultural reviewing and criticism with the world of broadcasting at a period when important experiments were being conducted in sound drama and documentary in terms of their political, social and cultural content and aesthetically. Recorded and synthesized sound blended the margins of factual and fictional representation. Orwell may well have been a regular listener to plays and features when he returned to stay with his parents in Southwold, Suffolk, in the late 1920s after resigning from the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. By this time the BBC had become a corporation and developed the ability to broadcast nationally and regionally. Moreover, his diary gives brief references to hearing dramatic news of Britain’s involvement in the Second World War on the radio in public places. He had a battery-powered radio set of his own after the war (Davison 2011).

As a prolific reviewer of the cultural scene, it is possible to imagine him embracing the new medium...

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