Originally published via Armageddon Prose:
“We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.”
-George Orwell, 1984
Does art imitate life, or the other way around?
The dystopia is getting very meta.
Via The Telegraph:
“George Orwell was a “sadistic, misogynistic, homophobic, sometimes violent” man who wrote women out of his story, according to a biographer of his wife.
Anna Funder said that Orwell was a brilliant writer but a complicated man whose personal life was at odds with the “decency” of his writing.
She has produced a biography of Eileen O’Shaugnessy, Orwell’s wife – highlighting the contributions O’Shaugnessy made to his work, including helping him to write Animal Farm.
According to Funder, the darkness that runs through 1984 is a reflection of Orwell’s soul..
“He desperately wants to be decent, and wanting to be decent is an honourable thing, a noble thing. But writing a book like 1984, which is violent, misogynist, sadistic, grim, paranoid: that comes out of a writer’s flaws.
“It takes someone who is those things to go deep inside themselves and pull that vision out.
“A decent, everyman underdog, the ordinary person that he might have wanted to be, would not have had those visions…
She added: “That’s a very curious thing that’s going on. He’s not ‘a man of his time’*, it’s not to be excused and thought of as ‘back in the day’.””
It’s hard to follow what narrative this Telegraph twat is even trying to paint. I’ve read 1984 multiple times. I literally can’t think of any misogyny or even any opaque passages that might be interpreted as misogynistic in the novel. Winston’s short-lived romance with Julia is more of a plot device to get him arrested and tortured than anything else. It’s certainly not a treatise on gender relations.
On that score, the Red Guard Telegraph girl, Anita Singh -- who will only ever gain notoriety for herself by tearing down her literary betters -- doesn’t do much to illuminate Orwell’s purported misogyny. Her entire source for the accusation is the biographer of Orwell’s dead wife, who perished all the way back in 1945! There is no firsthand material – a quote or a passage – attributed to Orwell proving his “misogyny.” Which is odd for as prolific a writer as him; one would suppose if his misogyny were so metastatic, it might have appeared in any of the volumes of his work that are publicly available.
Profiles in journalistic integrity.
At any rate, let us appreciate that the gentleman who warned of Memory Holes and the wholesale state-sponsored rewriting of history to suit the Current Thing narrative has himself been #MeToo’ed. Even in the grave, one is not free from retribution for sex crimes, real or imagined, in the Cultural Revolution.
Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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