THT, Orwell and general dystopian critics and context

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  • critics 1984, THT and Dystopia in general
    • 1984
      • Christopher Hollis: she has no metaphysical notion of freedom, and no center to her life other than the physical revolt which she engages in with Winston and others
      • Harold Bloom: 'A bad fiction'
      • ‘We are descending into an age where two and two will make five when the leader says so’- Orwell on essay on Bertrand Russell
      • ‘Oceania does not make martyrs; it makes converts’- Robert A Lee
      • ‘Intellectual honesty is a crime in any totalitarian country’- Orwell in ‘Fascism and Democracy’
      • Orwell worried that there would be ‘a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another’- so an inspiration for this is the Tehran conference with Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill where he saw Europe being divided up among three superstates.
        • This also one of James Burnham’s worries ‘Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world’- Orwell in ‘Notes on Naturalism’
      • 'the basic contention of all apologists of totalitarianism is that Democracy is fraud' - Orwell, Fascism and Democracy
      • 'Choose your leader. Hitler's black and Stalin's white. But it might just as well be the other way about' - George Orwell, Fascism and Democracy
      • -The influence of James Burnham in Orwell's 1984 Orwell has been deeply influenced by James Burnham's The Managerial Revolution.
        • In this work, Burnham said that the nature of advanced economies in the modern age required a new class of technocratic "managers" to run all aspects of modern life, from industry through the government.
          • Burnham expressed that the purpose of politics, despite the ostensible rhetoric and stated party platforms, was to give power to the ruling elite. People could only retain their liberty by safeguarding the right of judicial opposition and maintaining institutions independent of the government.
      • Swiftian satire aspect of 1984: the existence of a permanent cold war; the debasement of language by governments and politicians; the rewriting of history for ideological purposes; intellectuals turning into bureaucrats and betraying the common people; debasement of popular culture by the mass press - without them realising
        • James Burnham's satire - his thesis - that the managers and technocrats are going to take over the world
          • supported by Orwell's rage at the wartime meetings at Yalta and Potsdam with the division of the world into 3 great spheres of influence - found in 1984 - Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania
      • I was in the Indian Police for five years and by the end I hated the Imperialism"
        • 'Hitler can say that the Jews started the war and if he survives that will become official history' - letter to Willmett
    • The Handmaid's Tale
      • ‘The states intent… is to deny the bonds of private loyalty’ and bring about ‘uncritical obedience to the state’- Erika Gottlieb
      • ‘Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it’
      • Marilyn Gardener, Chrsitian Scientist, evaluation THT at the time of release - As a dystopia, this is a thinly textured one. [...] But if Offred is a sappy stand-in for Winston Smith, and Gilead seems at times to be only a coloring book version of Oceania - sharp contrast to the opinions of Harold Bloom
      • Catharine R. Stimpson :'The state becomes even more frightening because its monstrosity is normally absurd, absurdly normal'
      • 'an absorbing novel as well as an intra-feminist polemic.. century after century women have been complicit in their own undoing... Like the sadistic aunts in THT, it was women who bound their granddaughters feet, mothers who turned over young girls for clitoridectonmies and often even women who denounced their neighbours as witches" - Barbara Ehreinreich
        • 'Gilead is a fortress of patriarchy'
      • Harold Bloom: 'her gilead... is a vampiric realm, a society sick with blood' - tulip imagery and blood
        • 1984 compared as a rather bad fiction as Big Brother is not yet watching us, in our realm of virtual realm. But theocracy is a live menace'
          • H. B on Atwood 'she herself is an authentic authority upon literary survival'
      • Margaret Atwood: It is an imagined account of what happens when not uncommon pronouncements being made about women are taken to their logical conclusions'
  • 'a human barrel organ shooting propaganda at you by the hour' - George Orwell in Fascism and Democracy about those who preach propaganda and wants everyone to 'get together and have a good hate' -
    • Context: Orwell worked as a journalist for the BBC for 2 years, however he said his work made him so disgusted he had to quit. His audience were Indian with whom he had to make believe that their sons and resources (rice) were necessary for the war effort
  • 'In 1987, Chiang Kai-Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the left'


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