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Politics and the English Language
 
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Politics and the English Language [Format Kindle]

George Orwell

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Présentation de l'éditeur

'Politics and the English Language' is widely considered Orwell's most important essay on style. Style, for Orwell, was never simply a question of aesthetics; it was always inextricably linked to politics and to truth.'All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.'Language is a political issue, and slovenly use of language and cliches make it easier for those in power to deliberately use misleading language to hide unpleasant political facts. Bad English, he believed, was a vehicle for oppressive ideology, and it is no accident that 'Politics and the English Language' was written after the close of World War II.

Biographie de l'auteur

Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), better known by his pen-name, George Orwell, was born in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. An author and journalist, Orwell was one of the most prominent and influential figures in twentieth-century literature. His unique political allegory Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with the dystopia of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame. All his novels and non-fiction, including Burmese Days (1934), Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) and Homage to Catalonia (1938) are published in Penguin Modern Classics.

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En savoir plus sur l'auteur

George Orwell (de son vrai nom Eric Blair) est né aux Indes en 1903 et a fait ses études à Eton. Sa carrière est très variée et beaucoup de ses écrits sont un rappel de ses expériences. De 1922 à 1928 il sert dans la police indienne impériale. Pendant les deux années suivantes il vit à Paris puis part pour l'Angleterre comme professeur. En 1937 il va en Espagne combattre dans les rangs républicains et y est blessé. Pendant la guerre mondiale il travaille pour la B.B.C., puis est attaché, comme correspondant spécial en France et en Allemagne, à l'Observer. Il meurt à Londres en janvier 1950.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  11 commentaires
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Savor the fun, note the rules, and don't overlook the review of Mein Kampf 5 mars 2013
Par Lost John - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules are drawn from George Orwell's 1945 essay, Politics and the English Language. Yes, it's an essay, not a whole book, and this edition, although bearing the Penguin imprint, is really no more than a pamphlet. It has a paper cover and is held together with two staples.

Orwell would have been much more familiar than ourselves with pamphlets containing serious political or other matter. And this is certainly serious matter; primarily about the English Language (how she should be wrote!), not much about politics. Orwell's explanation for the prominence of the word Politics in his title is that "All issues are political issues...."

Many readers will relish the words with which he follows that statement. Penguin reproduces them on the back cover of this edition, but I won't spoil all the fun here.

Back in 1945, the samples of bad writing that Orwell dissects in the pages leading up to his set of rules would also have been a source of 'fun'. All five samples were contemporary, and two were penned by eminent professors. Egos were surely deflated, if not enemies made.

Orwell recognizes that positioning himself as a critic of the writing of others, even going so far as to set down general rules, is certain to attract criticism of his own writing. So be it, he seems to say, the mission is worth the cost. As it undoubtedly is.

Dare I be at all critical of Politics and the English Language? It is almost 70 years old, and by today's standards takes a lot of space to make some fairly basic points. That may be because Orwell was so successful in making his case it was long ago accepted as a basic premise. More likely, though, it is due to our 21st century impatience with any extended discussion.

Also included in the booklet is Orwell's 1940 review of Hitler's Mein Kampf. Bearing in mind the timing - the Second World War was less than six months old and Hitler still had more than five years to live - Orwell's remarks are notably perceptive, even prophetic, and definitely still worth reading.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Smart and engaging 2 juin 2013
Par Sam Quixote - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This pamphlet-sized publication contains George Orwell's superb 1945 essay "Politics and the English Language" and his 1941 review of Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf".

What seems at first a pedantic viewpoint of railing against bad language, grammar, and so on, like a 1940s version of Lynne Truss, becomes far more complex and thoughtful - while still being accessible to the general reader. Orwell objects to the bad use of the English language firstly as a writer himself and then moves onto a different kind of misuse of language - political language which deliberately utilises over-complicated words in an effort to mask its true intent.

At its worst, bad language, such as political language, can be used to manipulate events and ideas from sounding less heinous and corrupt than they are - he uses the example of the Soviet regime's practice of murdering dissenters to remain in power.

"Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." (p.20)

Orwell also sets out his rules for good writing which centres around his idea of simplifying language to make what you are trying to say more clear and understood to the reader.

The book review of "Mein Kampf" is interesting in itself, but also serves to underline Orwell's point in the essay preceding it. Hitler manipulates language for self-serving purposes and ends which hide his true intent of bloody murder and a dearth of real thought. He also makes several intelligent observations, one of which is that Hitler was elected on a platform that was the opposite of Soviet Russia's utopian ideals, revealing "the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life" (p.23) that the West assumed was the object of most peoples' lives.

Reading Orwell is like mentally breathing in fresh air on a crisp morning. The writing is superbly clear and direct, the ideas are fresh - still after so much time - and inspiring, and these essays are a reminder of why Orwell is such a revered figure in literature. Christopher Hitchens said it best: "Orwell told the truth". Read some truth today.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Politics and the English Language 7 avril 2013
Par Spider Monkey - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
`Politics and the English Language' is a short essay from George Orwell that explores the use of language in politics and how it may be misused to hide or detract from unsavoury facts. In the age of sound-bites and the glut of internet commentary the information here has never been more pertinent.

The writing is as clear and lucid as we have come to expect from Orwell and the short form of this pamphlet means you can read it one sitting. This also has a review of Mein Kampf included, I suspect to bulk out the offering a little.

There are more substantial reviews here that do this book full justice, but I can only say if you have any interest in politics (or the English language for that matter) at all then this is well worth a look at some point.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 PUBLISHING FOR THE PEOPLE 4 mars 2013
Par DAVID BRYSON - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Penguin Books is nothing if not adaptable. I am used to these little mini-editions of major authors, but mainly from publishers of newspapers, and this Orwell production has reminded me to get round to reading a similar small book containing work by William Blake presented under the auspices of the Guardian Newspaper Group. However the Guardian's pretentions to a mass circulation are more than doubtful these days, whereas Orwell is receiving a good deal of fresh discussion on the airwaves. Orwell from Penguin, Blake from the Graud - it's as if they are determined to stay true to type in whatever they put out.

A number of lavish tributes to Orwell by eminent commentators are cited, but in the main they are about his political insight. This book is about prose style, and the one encomium that relates unmistakably to that is from John Carey, emeritus professor of English at Oxford, who credits Orwell with `The clearest and most compelling English prose style this century', which must presumably mean the 20th century. That's a bit of a claim, and although I am nowhere near being in Professor Carey's class as a literary critic, I shall summon up the respectful courage to dispute it. Orwell had a professional writer's love of the great English language, and was also obsessed with politics. For this reason Orwell has to attribute serious political consequences to slovenly use of English. That, I should say, is going well over the top. What it reminds me of is a school English essay that we were once set on the topic of The Ampersand. Whatever the master who set it was expecting I don't know, but one of my fellow pupils told me that he had managed to link all the troubles of the world at that time with the ampersand.

By and large I go along with Orwell's strictures on bad style, particularly the use of lifeless conventional phrases. Even here, though, I find him a bit too censorious. Surely, for instance, ` toe the line' and `ride roughshod' can be accepted as ordinary day-to-day expressions. It would strain the already strained articulacy of many of us if we were under some solemn obligation to concoct original alternatives for that sort of thing. There is a more general consideration too: many, I dare say most, developments in a spoken tongue originate in bad or incorrect usage. If that were otherwise the language would not change at all except through foreign influences and loan-words. Sometimes a rearguard is worth fighting, to preserve the honour of the language we love, and I for one have not yet given up on denouncing the barbarism `wreaked' for `wrought', or `anticipate' used to mean `expect'. On the other hand I think there is now no hope of going back to the `proper' meaning of `aftermath', and this development can be scored to the account of language-in-progress.

As for Orwell's own style, it is impeccably pure and workmanlike. However his true originality and significance lie in his political and social vision. His prose is clean and shapely, but for originality of manner we have to look elsewhere among our prose-wielders. Indeed, Orwell hardly seems to recognise such a concept at all. I wonder how conversant Orwell (or come to that Mr Carey) was with the prose output of A E Housman. Housman's profile is lower, and mainly related to his poetry although his day job was as a professor of Latin. However he yields to none of them in his passion for his great mother tongue, and in case anyone likes to test the issue there are good collections of his prose by John Carter and Christopher Ricks.

As well as the main essay there is a review of Mein Kampf that Orwell did in 1940. This is the Orwell we know best, and it poses the familiar question Where was he in the political spectrum? I don't know the answer to that. I'm not sure he knew either, but I am quite sure the review is composed in the kind of English he expected from the rest of us.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Should be read by all public servants 29 mars 2013
Par catherine yates - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
The fundamental point of this short essay is that how you use language is a political matter. It reminds us of the need to be constantly on guard against falling into forms of standard English that limits us to the current dominant political ideology. Although the examples Orwell uses are dated, they do illustrate his point.
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