Back to Back Issues Page
English Detective # 113-- 1984 and its Echoes
September 04, 2018

#113 1984 and its Echoes

George Orwell wrote 1984 just over sixty years ago. The world has changed in ways that could hardly be imagined then—and yet it continues to sound a warning. Changing technologies have not negated Orwell’s insights into the ways people get and keep power by manipulating human weaknesses.

Read a little about the conditions under which Orwell wrote his masterpiece, then a couple of perspectives on the ways it is still relevant-- including a high school teacher’s efforts to make his students more aware of the ease of social manipulation.

Orwell wrote much of 1984 while coping with serious illness. The Guardian tells the story, as well as discussing the book’s continued impact. It also talks about Orwell's concern with the deliberate misuse of language to twist truth and make it difficult to recognize reality. At the end of the article it defines several of Orwell’s key phrases (thought crime, doublethink, newspeak, etc.)

A high school teacher describes how he prepares his students for reading 1984 by demonstrating techniques used to manipulate or intimidate people. He starts by warning his students about “senioritis”—an invented disease that makes high school seniors careless about their classwork. It’s frightening how easily he can persuade students to cooperate with his campaign and even report on each other. Helping students recognize manipulation seems more urgent now than ever.

This New Yorker article was written in 2013, just after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of American surveillance of individuals. Like the other articles, it points out the current relevance of Orwell’s warnings.


Vocabulary

Dictator- a leader with absolute power over his nation

Manuscript- the author’s written or typed version of a book before it has been prepared for publication

Narrator- the person telling a story

Surveillance- spying: keeping watch over everything possible that someone says or does. (These techniques are usually used by a government to track its citizens—or other people it considers to be possible threats.)

Totalitarian-an adjective describing a movement or government aiming for complete control over its people

Until next time,

Catherine Simonton, https://www.EnglishHints.com


P.S. If you don’t like to open links in emails, you can go to the EnglishHinks Back Issues page and open them there. It’s https://www.englishhints.com/English_Detective-backissues.html

A note if you get gmail: Have you missed any issues of English Detective? if you find English Detective in your Promotions box, you can move it to your Primary box (if you want) by clicking on it and dragging it there, then clicking Yes when asked if you want to always get it in the Primary box.

If you are not already getting English Detective, you can subscribe by completing the form here. (It's free!) Also, you can reach me by mail at 1752 Driftwood Drive, El Centro, CA 92243, USA.
Back to Back Issues Page