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ERIC Number: EJ871039
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0146-5945
Orwell's Instructive Errors
Julian, Liam
Policy Review, n155 Jun-Jul 2009
In this article, the author talks about George Orwell, his instructive errors, and the manner in which Orwell pierced worthless theory, faced facts and defended decency (with fluctuating success), and largely ignored the tradition of accumulated wisdom that has rendered him a timeless teacher--one whose inadvertent lessons, while infrequently acknowledged, are just as valuable as his intended ones. It commences with an insistence that battling bad English is no "sentimental archaism" as is generally supposed. Language does not merely reflect but also shapes societies, and so Orwell writes that far from being futile or irrelevant, defending the integrity of English is indispensable for the right functioning of the society that speaks it. In Orwell's writing, so much of it, the words seem "not mere labels, but facts." It's a major reason why his pieces are still anthologized, read, and commented upon: They eschew spineless language for clarity and force. It is tempting to believe that societal improvement will occur once people undertake unbiased observation of their surroundings. Yet Orwell reminds everyone, through his errors, that such an approach is insufficient, not simply because people process situations differently, selectively blur the line between fact and fiction, and are frequently incurably prejudiced, but also because it repudiates the accumulated wisdom that lets humans order their observations. The author argues that in Orwell's mistakes, in the worst of his work, useful lessons resound: Bias exists even in the most self-righteously self-proclaimed unbiased people, and individual observations, unguided by accumulated wisdom, are but assorted bits that lack cohesion.
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. 21 Dupont Circle NW Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 877-558-3727; Tel: 202-466-6730; Fax: 202-466-6733; e-mail: polrev@hoover.stanford.edu; Web site: http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/about
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A