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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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Preface: An In-Depth Look into Orwell’s Complex Mind

Extract

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Preface

An In-Depth Look into Orwell’s Complex Mind

RICHARD BLAIR



Although my father, George Orwell, died in January 1950 at the comparatively early age of forty-seven, his writing continues to provoke discussion and comment to this day. Indeed, his legacy expands with the passage of time, and he has been widely read and argued over by academics, writers and readers ever since.

The genesis of this outpouring of material about Orwell began in the early seventies as unauthorized biographers, frustrated by the refusal of his widow, Sonia, to allow anything to be written about him, for fear of saying something controversial, finally started to write unauthorized biographies. Eventually Sonia had to give in and go against his wishes as laid down in his will, that no biography be written and commission the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick to undertake his ‘official biography.’ Although he had full access to all his papers and the result was an outstanding success, Sonia was not happy with the outcome. But then, in 1980, Sonia, having just fought and won a legal battle to regain full control of Orwell’s copyright, died—and this freed up the literary executor of the estate to fully exploit the copyright to responsible writers such as Crick, publishers and film makers.

Amongst all these new opportunities were many writers who wanted to do their own biographies, and this has led to a plethora...

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