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Title: From Mandalay to Wigan Pier : social commitment in George Orwell's writing
Authors: DeGiorgio, Daphne (2000)
Keywords: Literature and society
Modernism (Literature)
Orwell, George, 1903-1950 -- Criticism and interpretation
Issue Date: 2000
Citation: DeGiorgio, D. (2000). From Mandalay to Wigan Pier : social commitment in George Orwell's writing (Bachelor's dissertation).
Abstract: The name George Orwell frequently evokes images of the totalitarian state of Oceania in 1984, and of the animals on Animal Farm singing 'Beasts of England'. Big Brother and Doublethink have become synonymous with the repression of the individual's autonomy to think as well as to act, while the Commandment on the barn wall 'All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others', has become a catch phrase for inequality. Although Eric Arthur Blair always knew he wanted to be a writer, his literary career began relatively late. He began to teach himself to write in a little apartment in Notting Hill, after he resigned his commission in Burma in 1927. His first published book, Down and Out in Paris and London, was published in 1933 under the pseudonym George Orwell. The name itself conjures two aspects that are particularly evident in his work: Saint George fighting the dragon of death and evil, and the river Orwell - commitment to a cause and a love for life. The notion of social commitment in one's approach to writing and literature was not peculiar to Orwell. Indeed, the 1930's were years that saw a marked development away from the concerns of Modernism towards a keener interest in political events. These events were pressing and foreboding. The memory of the First World War was still fresh, and another seemed to be looming ahead. Events followed each other rapidly: the rise of Communism in Russia and the Stalin purges, a world wide economic depression after the Wall Street crash in 1929, the rise of Hitler and a strong Germany, flanked by a weak France that was relying on its ally - England - in the event of war. Fascism was rearing its head in Italy under the leadership of Mussolini, and was soon to establish itself in Spain under General Franco. In the face of this, it does not seem surprising that writers like Orwell and Graham Greene, amongst others, should have been 'more disposed[ ... ] to confront the 'nightmare' of history not through imaginative or aesthetic transformations which partly denied or tried to escape its processes, but through direct, political attitudes which sought to transform reality and historical processes themselves'. Their work forms part of the literature of realism: 'It displays the contradictions within society and within the individual in the context of a dialectical unity. [ ... ] The average man is simply a dimmer reflection of the contradictions always existing in man and society'. Any eccentricity in a character - such as the isolation of Flory in Burmese Days - is a 'socially conditioned distortion'.
Description: B.A.(HONS)ENGLISH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 1999-2010
Dissertations - FacArtEng - 1965-2010

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