What would Orwell make of the world today? While I was reading Orwell: On Truth, this question was constantly on my mind. If he were alive today, Orwell would be writing, about injustice, inequality, racism, fake news, and populism.
Today, Orwell is everywhere. In the digital propaganda of the Russian government, in the fake news and the ‘alternative facts’ of Trump’s White House, in Westminster politics. Sixty years after its publication, Nineteen Eighty-Four remains the greatest fictional demolition of totalitarianism, and even teenagers know that the Animal Farm is an allegorical fable where Orwell, through the pigs’ treatment of the other animals and the unfair privileges they give themselves, expose the issues of injustice, exploitation and inequality in human society.
‘The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.’
Orwell: On Truth is a thought-provoking selection of George Orwell’s writing, from both his novels and non-fiction on the subject of truth. It includes an introduction by Alan Johnson and passages from Burmese Days, The Road to Wigan Pier, Coming Up for Air, The Lion and the Unicorn, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four as well as extracts essays (for me Orwell’s best work) and his war-time diary.
George Orwell’s brilliance is depicted in every single page in this book. A radical writer who does matter today as much as ever. As Alan Johnson writes, Eric Blair died in 1950, George Orwell lives on.