Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984 by Dorian Lynskey

“Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s ““1984"” by Dorian Lynskey

This was an illuminating read which taught me so much about my childhood favorite book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. This book is part biography of George Orwell (aka Eric Blair), and part history book which explains the times Orwell was living in and how this affected him.

““1984"” was an important book when it was written during WW2, and is still important now as the world is teetering near the precipice towards: either WW3, a climate catastrophe, or a non-stop health epidemic.

If you like to learn about the books the author read, what influenced them, and learn about the history of the time a book was written - this is the book for you.

Reading this book biography has even spurred me into re-reading ““1984"”. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but I should note, I have never re-read any other book before. So far, my 2nd read is shaping up to be even more impactful than the 1st time I read it. It may be just that the whole world seems to be a massive dumpster fire right now, or maybe this book is just bloody brilliant.

From ““Looking back on the Spanish War””:

““I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously coloured what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes.; but in each case they believed that ““the facts”” existed and were more or less discoverable…It is just this common basis of agreement, with its implication that human beings are all one species of animal, that totalitarianism destroys…The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past

Never has a more succinct summary of the Chinese regime ever been written. This was written in 1943 by George Orwell.

““It’s a sad commentary on our age that we find Dystopias a lot easier to believe in than Utopias: Utopias we can only imagine, Dystopias we’ve already had””

  • Margaret Atwood

A great Canadian author, and another favorite of mine, that was influenced by ““1984"”.

““There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the wold world, you were not mad””

  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

It feels like truth is under assault right now all across the internet, and in the authoritarian regimes like North Korea, and China.

““If you pretend that it is merely an aberration which will presently pass off all of its own accord, you are dreaming a dream from which you will awake when somebody coshes you with a rubber truncheon””

Orwell predicting Xi Jingping, Putin, and Trump? No, that was Orwell writing about fascism in 1936. This quote is for the people who thinks we should be ‘kinder’ to fascists and not punch them in the face. Nope! Intolerance is intolerable.

““The future, at any rate the immediate future, is not with the ‘sensible’ men. The future is with the fanatics.

  • George Orwell, Time & Tide, June 8, 1940

This quote sort of reminds me about the religious violence book I just finished.

““Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism, and the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into Fascism when the pinch comes,”” - Orwell wrote to his friend Geoffrey Gorer in 1937

We are living in 1984. The essence of 1984 summed up by one of Orwell’s notes: ““The nightmare feeling caused by the disappearance of objective truth.”” I wonder if this book would have as much of an impact on readers if we lived in a utopia with a 4 day workweek, free healthcare, and universal basic income?

““I know that I have a highly inconvenient habit of speaking what I consider to be the truth rather than saying what may be expedient at the moment.””

  • Yevgeny Zamyatin, letter to Stalin, 1929

““As soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged.””

  • George Orwell, ““Notes on Nationalism,”” 1945

Anybody who thinks they can negotiate, or co-exist with fascist governments is wrong. We can’t be soft on China. We can’t try to appease Russia or North Korea. Bullies see that as weakness. China won’t ‘give’ freedom to Hong Kong.

““The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside…Out in the street the loudspeakers bellow, the flags flutter from the rooftops, the police with their tommy-guns prowl to and fro, the face of the Leader, four feet wide, glares from every hoarding; but up in the attic the secret enemies of the regime can record their thoughts in perfect freedom.””

We are at an important time in history; democracy is in ‘decline’, there is a worldwide pandemic battering the economy, and our Earth is in peril…ordinary people will have to step up to change the current trajectory we are on.

On socialism:

““perhaps the choice before man is always a choice of evils perhaps even the aim of Socialism is not to make the world perfect but to make it better. All revolutions are failures, but they are not all the same failure.””

““The people are not going to revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice whats really happening”” (from the play version of 1984)

I do, do hope that will not happen. We need to all wake-up and protect the values that are dear to us! Orwell has a huge breadth of writing that goes beyond ““1984"” and I have added many of his books to my ““To Read”” list.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #94 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge #BookReview #Books #BookBiography #GeorgeOrwell #dystopia #fascism #1984 #DorianLynskey “,

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