This past weekend, Newsweek posted a good story about one of my favorite authors, George Orwell. The story, entitled Why We Need to Call a Pig a Pig (With Or Without Lipstick), discusses, among other things, his terrific essay on the sloppiness of the English language, Politics and the English Language. If you have not read it, it is well worth your time. I particularly like the last paragraph of the article, as it is a sentiment I have expressed in the past.
Today, [Orwell]'s name is invoked to describe anything involving surveillance, paranoia or even books about animals. Orwell's ideas have been bastardized and simplified over time, so that "Big Brother," the totalitarian, state-run citizen-control mechanism of "1984," is now the name of a reality-TV show that bears little resemblance to the book, except for the fact that contestants are watched by cameras. "When writers use the word 'Orwellian,' you can be pretty sure they've read very little of him," says Packer. Rather than describing surveillance devices, or pig farms, a more accurate application of the adjective would mean something that aspires to the lucidity and integrity of Orwell's writing. In that case, it would be the highest praise.
The complete works of George Orwell are available at george-orwell.org and you can read his diary published as a blog with a seventy year delay at Orwell Diaries. If you have not read 1984, you should stop whatever you are doing and read it immediately.