I Wanna Be Literated186

I Wanna Be Literated186

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Thursday, 28 June 2018
BOOKS

All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays
by George Orwell

I think it’s often missed that George Orwell was primarily a journalist and essayist, not a novelist. I didn’t forget that, I just didn’t know. I owe Orwell quite a bit, because it’s through reading 1984 that the floodgates of my voracious reading were opened. Before, I had been forced to read books, but now it became a hobby. Chomsky has lauded Orwell for his Homage to Catalonia and how well it depicted the Spanish civil war. It feels like a novel but is actually journalistic reporting. It’s engrossing and honest and easily accessible and that most definitely applies to this collection of essays All Art is Propaganda. Compelling title, I know.

It really can’t be understated just how funny, relevant, enjoyable, and accessible this collection of essays is. Here, Orwell discusses a variety of topics such as the complete works of Charles Dickens and how his Englishness is embedded in his works to the point where he’s unable to sympathize with the working man, to TS Elliott, to the idea of utopianism and how, ironically, our idea of a work-free utopia would be the opposite of what we would want. Wouldn’t we want a world where we would be free to create and be constantly occupied? Also discussed is the attack on intellectualism and how both the fascist and communists are guilty of this. It’s important to appreciate those who devote their lives to manual labor, but this shouldn’t also include vilifying experts in the field of science and literature. Then there’s his Reflections on Gandhi which accuses him of being a narcissist with misguided beliefs. He comes close to calling him a farce, which can be said for plenty of so-called spiritual celebrities nowadays. One would think Orwell hates these subjects he’s writing about, if it weren’t for the fact that he writes with such authority. His thoughts are distilled into the essentials and he knows exactly what he wants to say about them. He comes across as a curmudgeon, but undoubtedly a lovable one.

All Art is Propaganda is simply a delightful read. It’s all over the place, but with Orwell’s writing skills, you don’t really notice it. It’s Orwell’s opinions that are the real focus here, and this book is full of them.

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