There are a couple of new biographies out about George Orwell. While Orwell was a far more complex (and often less sympathetic) figure that many of his admirers would suggest, he remains, as he should, an inspiration. In a review in today’s Independent, Fred Inglis notes that Animal Farm and 1984 have sold over 40 million copies in 60 languages.
Inglis goes on to note that “to ask “what kind of book could do that?” is to pursue a story of a life which so enlarged its imagination that it encompassed the ultimate terrors of a whole historical epoch, enclosing them in the form of a complete world, and left the result as a weapon and a warning for the use and abuse of posterity.”
That’s perfectly put.
The tragedy is that, in our own era, humanity is again been both stalked and consumed by totalitarianism, this time, an updated version of one of our species’ oldest (and most enduring) scourges, theocratic absolutism.
But where is our Orwell?