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William Lashner's PI-Writing Blog

A little more on 1984

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I mentioned 1984, one of my all time favorite books in the last post.  The line that always gets me, and never loses its relevance, is this one, from O'Brien, when the truth of things is revealed to Winston Smith:

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

I don't want to get political here, but whenever the discussion moves to torture, I always think of Orwell.

Another great book that was an inspiration to Orwell was Koestler's Darkness at Noon.  Koestler is actually a little hot right now, with a new biography out.  I recently re-read Darkness at Noon and found it just as chilling as I remembered, the story of functionary for the state who is imprisoned in a purge.  But when I read it this time something popped out at me, which was really cool.

In 1984, Orwell's hero, Winston Smith, has a job of rewriting newspapers to fit the current political agenda, writing disfavored persons out of history, bolstering the history politicians currently in favor, just like the way the Soviets used to airbrush purged figures from their photographs.  It is quite the sinister job, but Orwell didn't come up with it on  his own.  In Darkness at Noon, Koestler has his hero make a prophetic remark:

Rubashov remarked jokingly to Arlova that the only thing left to be done was to publish a new and revised edition of the back numbers of all newspapers.

From a throwaway line in Darkness, Orwell created magic.  Somebody told me once that it's okay to steal as long as the work you're writing is better than what you're stealing from.  I think Orwell is on solid ground.

Don't be afraid to dig like a miner through books.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had (unfortunately) not heard of you but am happy to say your Fatal Flaw lies beside me now. Wow. You can turn a phrase - is THAT what I'm meaning? Know it's NOT coin a ....Whatever, now I'm boring myself, too. Posted as my status a line from this book on my FB profile. Gave YOU credit - not to worry! Got a like from an intellectual friend, for said sentence. ANYhoo...that's all. Gonna dig back in. Btw, which other writers inspired you, in your youth-youth? Dicken-s? (Droid makes me have to hyphenate words.) Thank you for your wonderful treat to readers of novels.
Deede Cohen

July 7, 2011 at 11:43 PM  

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