The C.I.A.'s hi-jacking and manipulation of Animal Farm and its theme of political totalitarianism during the Cold War proved one of the highlights of this cultural week's banquet. John Newsinger ignited and mesmerised us all, in this very well attended and vibrant talk of the regimes of yesteryear.
Newsinger balancied Orwell the brilliant journalist, with his human flaws, against the political realities of his time. Attitudes to Stalin were explained clearly and George Orwell’s stance was clearly contextualised. British communism of that time was also explained interestingly and compassionately.
The integrity of George Orwell’s positioning and his willingness to put his head above the parapet was enlightening and was articulated seamlessly to a rapt audience.
Nineteen Eight- Four has a charged sexual atmosphere with emancipation and female liberation at its very heart, according to Newsinger. His take on Julia the female protagonist, was delivered with insight, humour and gusto.
John Newsinger doesn’t hang about. His knowledge of his subject matter seems limitless. The entertaining way this material is delivered engages his audience. At times laughter filled the room.
It was Orwell’s compulsion to read about and research the Soviet Union that, in Newsinger's opinion, gave him the tools to write with such insight and depth on totalitarianism. People living under Soviet regimes were amazed by this understanding of their experience.
Empire and was also discussed in relation to Burmese Days. One quotation used in this entertaining talk still resonates: Police and Army "hold the native down while the business man goes through his pockets."
Same old story. Enough said.