Buku The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

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The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

Author:Dorian Lynskey

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: Doubleday

Published: 2019-06-03T23:00:00+00:00

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The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

* * *

As far as Orwell was concerned, “a book doesn’t exist until it is finished.” He would neither share his drafts with friends nor discuss the contents in anything but the vaguest terms. In case he died in hospital, he instructed Rees to destroy the rough draft of what was still called The Last Man in Europe. It would either be finished or it would be shoved down the memory hole and reduced to ashes.

 

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The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

Author:Dorian Lynskey , Date: June 21, 2019

,Views: 36

Author:Dorian Lynskey

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: Doubleday

Published: 2019-06-03T23:00:00+00:00
* * *

As far as Orwell was concerned, “a book doesn’t exist until it is finished.” He would neither share his drafts with friends nor discuss the contents in anything but the vaguest terms. In case he died in hospital, he instructed Rees to destroy the rough draft of what was still called The Last Man in Europe. It would either be finished or it would be shoved down the memory hole and reduced to ashes.

Given Orwell’s fear of anyone seeing his work in progress, it’s remarkable that early versions of Nineteen Eighty-Four survived at all. Pages from four drafts, amounting to 44 per cent of the novel, ended up in the hands of Daniel G. Siegel, a collector from Massachusetts, who agreed to publish a facsimile in 1984. Even this collage of fragments gives a decent impression of Orwell’s process and priorities. He was a ruthless self-editor, rewriting paragraphs several times over, on pages almost unreadably dense with amendments, to eliminate flabby phrasing and reinforce key ideas. The novel’s famously disorienting first line, for example, originally read: “It was a cold, blowy day in early April, and a million radios were striking thirteen.” This was the sixth of his books to open with the time of day.

The detailed notes Orwell made at Hairmyres laid out his priorities: clarify the role of the proles, the falsification of history and the suppression of sex in Oceania, and write the final chapter. Little was lost. The visit to O’Brien’s apartment was abbreviated, minimising the role of his sinister manservant Martin, and a subsequent encounter with Julia was dropped. Orwell drastically reduced allusions to real-world geography, references to race (including the lynching scene), and ironies that felt excessive. There is bone-dry humour in the novel, in the planned “spontaneous demonstrations” and compulsory “voluntary subscriptions,” but Orwell presumably considered the “Christian Pacifists” who call for twenty thousand Eurasian prisoners to be buried alive too heavy-handed. None of these amendments fundamentally altered the book’s narrative or agenda. To the contrary, the early drafts reveal just how consistent and focused Orwell was during those three years.

Orwell’s recovery faded with the summer. His health spiralled down so dramatically that by October he was sure he needed to go to a sanatorium, but still he kept working instead. He even managed to find time to write short pieces on Jean-Paul Sartre and T. S. Eliot, and a substantial article which made clear what his novel was not about.

In hindsight, Orwell might have regretted the name he chose for his totalitarian regime. As the ugly Newspeak contraction implied, Ingsoc was no more socialist than National Socialism. In a book where the Ministries of Truth, Love, Peace and Plenty are dedicated to the opposite values, it would be bizarre to interpret it literally, as English socialism. The Labour Party no longer exists and Goldstein’s book spells out the lie embedded in Ingsoc’s name: “Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism.

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