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lies about the present?
A third way of controlling people's minds is through language.
One of the central messages in 1984 is the importance of
language in human thought. Language shapes and limits our
ideas. If the state could control our language, it could also control
our thoughts. It would become impossible for people to disobey
commands or to have their own ideas. There would be no words
w i t h which to think them! In 1984, a new language,'Newspeak',
is being invented. It w i l l eventually take the place of English and
w i l l take away people's ability to think for themselves. I n this way,
the state w i l l have total control over people's thoughts. Nobody
w i l l ever question the Party's power.
Many of Orwell's 'Newspeak' words and ideas have passed
into everyday language; for example, unperson and doublethink (the
ability to accept two opposite beliefs at the same time). There
are even popular television programmes called 'Big Brother' and
' R o o m 101'.
The Party believes that Winston, an unbeliever, must be mad. To
Winston, the Party is mad. H o w can anyone say — and believe
- that two and two make five? W h e n a man disappears, how can
his colleagues say - and believe - that he never existed?
Winston thinks a lot about the reality of his present, and tries
to remember the reality of his past. But what is reality? What is
truth? W h o decides? The individual or the Thought Police? 1984
shows us that there can be no freedom unless ideas and beliefs
can be questioned. Without individual freedom, reality belongs
to the people w i t h the power. This message is as important to us
today as it was when it was first written almost sixty years ago.
George Orwell (whose real name was Eric Blair) was born in
India in 1903. After school at Eton, England, he moved to Burma,
where he joined the British police for five years. He eventually left
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because he was unhappy about the British treatment of Burmese
people. After doing different jobs in France, he returned to
England, where he opened a village shop. Soon, he began w r i t i n g
for magazines. His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London
(1933), describes his experiences as a poor writer. This book
was followed by three works of fiction, Burmese Days (1934), A
Clergyman's Daughter (1935) and Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936).
In 1936, Orwell was asked to write about unemployment in the
north of England. W i t h his book The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell
became one of Britain's most important writers.
In December 1936, Orwell went to Spain to report on the war
in Spain. He decided to become a soldier in the government's
international army fighting against Franco, and eventually became
an officer. In May, 1937, he was shot in the neck. As a result, he
was unable to move the left side of his body and he lost his voice
for a short time. After leaving Spain, he returned to England and
wrote about his war experiences in Homage to Catalonia (1938).
It was not popular because it criticized British newspapers and
politicians for telling lies. It is one of the best books ever written
about war, but it sold only 12,000 copies in the first twelve years.
During World War I I , Orwell worked for the B B C radio service
and for the Observer newspaper. He also wrote many articles for
magazines, which include some of his best writing.
Orwell's last two books are his most famous. Animal Farm
(1945) is a story about animals, but it really criticizes the political
situation in Russia under a Communist government. Although
a lot of his old friends, who admired Russia, hated it, it became
one of Britain's most popular books.
Then, in 1948, he wrote his last book, 1984. The book had
a great effect on people's thinking at the time. And, as we have
seen, it still makes people think deeply about life, power and
society today.

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