Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Great Essayist

All Art is Propaganda
by George Orwell

A new collection of the essays of George Orwell is always welcome and this one is timely in this hyper-political election year.
All Art is Propaganda is a collection of his essays bound by the theme of philosophical and aesthetic commentary. It includes such masterpieces as "Politics and the English Language", "Charles Dickens" and "Rudyard Kipling". Of particular interest in our political enthused year are the essays addressing the nature of propaganda; both directly in "Propaganda and Demotic Speech", and somewhat tangentially in "Politics and the English Language". The latter being more important includes many bits of wisdom including,
"if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. Bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better."
The usage of political speech in the twenty-first century is proof enough of Orwell's claim. Thoughtful criticism, such as Orwell's, is woefully lacking in our current day, particularly among practicing politicians and their supporters. Reading Orwell reminds one of the possibilities of fine prose. His essays never fail to be both enlightening and interesting on each of the disparate topics he addresses. I hope that some of the many readers of his novels will take the time to savor their fine prose.

All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays by George Orwell. Harcourt, New York. 2008.

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