1984 Starts Here

Orwell’s Diaries have been serialized daily online for the last few years as though Orwell were a contemporary blogger. His diary started with Word War II and each entry is posted on the day it was written but time-shifted 70 years into the future.

The early entries were fascinating for their fleeting glimpse into the every day lives of people during the war. Orwell talks more about the price of eggs and about how his petunias are faring than about the bombs falling on London but, as times passes, he begins to talk more and more about politics.

Today’s post (from April 27, 1942) is about propaganda from Italy and I wonder if this was the moment when he decided to write 1984.

[…Nowadays, whatever is said or done, one looks instantly for hidden motives and assumes that words mean anything except what they appear to mean.]

From the Italian radio, describing life in London:

“Five shillings were given for one egg yesterday, and one pound sterling for a kilogram of potatoes. Rice has disappeared, even from the Black Market, and peas have become the prerogative of millionaires. There is no sugar on the market, although small quantities are still to be found at prohibitive prices”.

One would say that this is stupid propaganda, because if such conditions really existed England would stop fighting in a few weeks, and when this fails to happen the listener is bound to see that he has been deceived. But in fact there is no such reaction. You can go on and on telling lies, and the most palpable lies at that, and even if they are not actually believed, there is no strong revulsion either.

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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