Saturday 15 June 2013

The wisdom of George Orwell

I am about to finish Down and Out in Paris and London. I only have a few pages left (and I know it took so much more time than it should have had, since the book is quite short). I blogged about it here. George Orwell amazes me, because, as Christopher Hitchens said, he spoke the truth. Not merely because he was sincere, but because he was so darn accurate about life. I have decided to add here some quoted from the book, that stuck to my mind. Orwell, indeed, spoke the truth:

"I am glad that this happened, for it destroyed one of my illusions, namely, that Frenchmen knew good food when they see it."
"I think that one should start by saying that a plongeur is one of the slaves of the modern world."
"The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit."
"A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a businessman, getting his living, like other business men, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modern people, sold his honour; he has merely made the mistake of choosing a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich."
"It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level."

There would be more to quote. His observations on religious charities and church people are brilliantly corrosive without ever going in the territory of unfair hostility. So yes, I will not stress it enough, read it.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I'll put it on "the list." The only Orwell I've read is 1984. Apparently 1984 is enjoying a new surge of popularity recently. Booksellers attribute it to the current controversy about government monitoring of cell phones and email use by the general populace.

Guillaume said...

Ironically enough, there is very little of Orwell's 1984 in today's world (thankfully). You see a certain image of Oceania in some totalitarian states, but in Western societies we have way more freedom than Winston Smith ever dreamed of. 1984 was of course a cautionary tale, not a prophecy. Down and Out in Paris and London, however, is borderline contemporary.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the read.

Mantan Calaveras said...

Blair definitely had a talent for cutting through bias and bigotry, and getting to the marrow of the subject matter. I was just ruminating over what I find to be one of his most prescient quotes,

"Scientific education for the masses will do little good, and probably a lot of harm, if it simply boils down to more physics, more chemistry, more biology, etc to the detriment of literature and history. Its probable effect on the average human being would be to narrow the range of his thoughts and make him more than ever contemptuous of such knowledge as he did not possess."

Sadly for contemporary atheist culture, he seems to have been right.

Guillaume said...

@Mantan-Contemporary culture is not atheistic, atheists do not even represent a majority in the Western world. Those who are atheists (like me) do not have contempt for literature and history. Heck, my atheism comes at least partially from my study of literature and history! I do not know the context of this quote, I agree with the statement, but whaever the context was the quote could easily apply to religious fundamentalists. Sure, they know zilch about chemistry, but neither they understand literature or indeed history. Especially not history.