George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, 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). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed - as are his essays on politics, literature, language, and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Orwell's work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian – descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices – has entered the language together with many of his neologisms, including Big Brother, Thought Police, Room 101, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, proles, unperson, and thoughtcrime.


From "1984":
  • "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 a dictatorship."
  • "Big Brother is watching you."
  • "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
  • "Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood."
  • "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
  • "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."
  • "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them."
  • "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
  • "Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."
  • "Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We
    know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it."
  • "Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing."
  • "In the face of pain there are no heroes."
  • "Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad."
  • "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."
  • "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."
  • "The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better."
  • "Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else."
  • "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it."
  • "The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink."

From "Animal Farm":

  • "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
  • "Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it."
  • "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

"In Front of Your Nose" : 1945-1950

  • "The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection."
  • "The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

"All Art is Propaganda : Critical Essays"

  • "If there really is such a thing as turning in one's grave, Shakespeare must get a lot of exercise."
  • "On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."
  • "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." - "Down and Out in Paris and London"

  • "Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
    "Politics and the English Language" : (1946)

Often attributed to Orwell (and sounding like him!), but origin uncertain:

  • "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."
  • "The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."
  • "During? times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
  • "A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims ... but accomplices."