Honoring George Orwell

george-orwell-bbc.jpgEric Arthur Blair better known by his pen name George Orwell, born this day in 1903
was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

Animal Farm

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com


Down and Out in Paris and London

Orwell’s first work — a sensitive and insightful description of the life of the working poor in Paris and the homeless in London. It is still very relevant today, and while aimed at the casual reader, it is of interest to the scholar and activist.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com


“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a match against the powers that be.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

Share your thoughts
Have you read Orwell, has he influenced you in any way?

 

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Robert Browning Remembered

“Love, hope, fear, faith – these make humanity;
These are its sign and note and character.”

collection_5295_RobertBrowningRobert Browning was born in Camberwell on May 7th 1812 and educated by private tutors. His parents were wealthy enough to allow him to travel and to be a poet as if it were a profession. He came known by literary figures such s Wordsworth and Landor after the publication of “Paracelsus” in 1835, but he was unrecognized by the public until “Men an Women” appeared twenty years later. He was therefore almost unknown when in 1846 he eloped with Elizabeth Barrett.

He is now widely recognized as a master of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. Browning is perhaps best-known for a poem he didn’t value highly, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, a children’s poem that is quite different from his other work. He is also known for his long form blank poem The Ring and the Book, the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books.

A long dramatic narrative poem, and, more specifically, a verse novel, of 21,000 lines. It was published in four volumes from 1868 to 1869 by Smith, Elder & Co.

The book tells the story of a murder trial in Rome in 1698, where an impoverished nobleman, Count Guido Franceschini, is found guilty of the murders of his wife Pompilia Comparini and her parents, having suspected his wife was having an affair with a young cleric.

“No, when the fight begins within himself, A man’s worth something.”

“One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake.”


The love affair between two of the Victorian era’s most famous poets is one of passion, tragedy, illness, and ultimately, endurance. Collected here are their 573 love letters, which capture their courtship, their blossoming love, and their forbidden marriage.


Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.

WISO: Bearing Witness

5141TVTK8CL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ - Edited.jpgIn the last few months this country as been experiencing severe division – struggling painfully to understand each other’s seemingly vast differences. The last week has condensed and amplified the relative issues and feelings. So for me, who has been watching not just strangers, but close friendships and families battle one another in frustration and fear, I found this book to be just what I needed.

“Our actions – whether they make peace or war – reverberate
throughout this universe.
Since we’re all interdependent, nothing is small, trivial, or inconsequential.
Not even a string of beads. Not even one bullet – or one word.”

Here is What I’m Sipping On:

I was given this book yesterday based on my fascination with WW2 . This wonderful and enlightening book by Bernie Glassman begins with a diverse group of people camping out and “Bearing Witness” at auschwitz-jpg
Auschwitzn – Birkenau.

“Bearing Witness; A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace,” is (so far) a deep and resonating work of art.

I have been glued to it since it was handed to me, and I find it extremely grounding. It’s the kind of book that really causes a person to stop and reflect, and ponder our personal humanity. A book to be read slowly and re-read often.

These words were especially powerful:

“This is a book of questions.
More precisely, it’s about living a questioning life, a life of unknowing. If we’re ready to live such a life, without fixed ideas or answers, no matter how difficult, offensive, or painful it is. Out of that process of bearing witness the right action of making peace, of healing, arises.” 

Evocative Literary Lines VIII

“If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me…”

Saul Bellow, Herzog

“…life on earth is both brutally short, and paradoxically, far too long. ”

 Andrew Davidson, The Gargoyle

“Remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.”

C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

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Share a line or two from literature that brings you strong imagery, memories, and/or feelings.