Posted On: Friday - June 18th 2021 7:00AM MST
In Topics:   Orwellian Stupidity  Books
Peak Stupidity uses our topic key Orwellian Stupidity in jest this time. This post is about stupidity of the author George Orwell himself, or really just lack of wisdom (gotta keep with the theme of the blog though, you know...). Normally, the term "Orwellian" is, of course, used to describe practices of Totalitarian governments that were frighteningly described in their final endgame in Orwell's most famous novel, the dystopian Sci-Fi story 1984.
I'm only writing this due to my having read 2 more of the famous author's books, Homage to Catalonia and Animal Farm, lately. The point here is not at all to denigrate George Orwell, as I wouldn't know how to start writing in the manner of a classic author like this.
That's just it, though. George Orwell* is a classic author. From the time I was forced to read many of these guys' (and a few gals') works in high school**, then later on a few of them of my own volition, I was instilled a respect for writers of published books that was perhaps undeserved. Don't get me wrong - I have plenty of respect for the writing abilities of the classic authors. I realize the value of the classic American and English literature as sometimes force-fed to me for my own good.
However, that was not the age of the internet, in which one can self-publish and promote his works on a youtube channel. If there is a published book out by some dude, well, I figured he is a Writer™, PERIOD, and is somebody who knows WTH he is doing. It's taken me a long time to shake that respect and realize that most of these writers are humans with foibles and can be lacking in wisdom like the rest of us.
Exhibit A here is one George Orwell. 1984 is indeed an important work, meant to be a warning about Totalitarianism, but often taken lately as an instruction manual! That was his last book however, written in 1949 when he was 46 years old***. At the time of his writing of Homage to Catalonia, he was only 35 years old. Face it, he was just young and dumb like most of us were, to some degree. In Orwell's case, it wasn't to impress the chicks that he went off to fight in the Spanish Civil War (written about in that book), as he was already married. However, you've got the usual impulsive behavior of a fairly young, and in this case very idealistic, man. "Let's go fight those nasty Fascists! Our side is full of good people, who want to set things right. Never mind the support from the USSR, we're doing the right thing."
Homage to Catalonia was a diary of Mr. Orwell's time on one of the fronts in the war, and then of the turmoil that happened in Barcelona as he and his wife stayed there some months. This turmoil, including plenty of street fighting, arrests, and executions (including of some of Orwell's compatriots on the "Republican" side) was among the different factions that were all supposed to be fighting the fascists. I didn't get the big picture of what this was all about - spillover from the friction/purges/etc. back in the USSR, the big supporter of Orwell's side - until after I wrote my review, and that's because neither did Mr. Orwell himself. He couldn't write about that part, as he didn't know any better, being in the midst of this turmoil and confusion in Barcelona. He could only have seen the big picture after he was back safely in France, then England, and maybe only after some time had gone by.
I'd read multiple times in the past that George Orwell, even though he wrote 1984 had remained a Socialist in ideology. It was hard for me to believe that a guy who saw the evils of Totalitarianism, as described in his last book, couldn't see that Socialism usually leads in that direction. However, I see that by the time of his writing of Animal Farm, at 42 years old, indeed this author had no problem with Socialism itself, only a problem with a bad implementation of Socialism by
What's the whole point here? The point is that, just based on one classic book alone, one shouldn't get the impression that the author is/was some big fountain of wisdom. George Orwell really didn't get it, from what I've read (only the 3 books), until his last work, published the year before his death at 46 y/o. These classic authors are well known for possibly some high-brow entertainment or from their making of profound statements about society and ideology. Much of their lives, though, until they gather some wisdom, they may be as full of shit as the next guy. I got the wrong impression from my English teachers.
* That was the pen name of Englishman Eric Arthur Blair. Wikipedia has a good biography page here.
** I never did tackle that Moby Dick, though it was indeed assigned. Even the Cliff Notes were too long for this guy!
*** George Orwell died young, still 46 years old in January of 1950.
**** He'd finally gotten a clue about what that whole Barcelona mess he'd gotten caught up in was all about.