par George Orwell
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George Orwell was born Edward Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, in India. His father was an English civil servant in India. At age eight, Orwell returned to England, where he was sent to boarding school. In 1917, Orwell went to Eton on scholarship, where he was first exposed to the political ideas that would eventually form the foundation of Animal Farm. Upon graduating in 1921, Orwell followed in his father’s footsteps and went to Burma, India, as a member of the Civil Service, where he served from 1922 to 1927. After that time, Orwell seemed to abandon the privilege that came with being a member of the upper class, even if he was a poorer member of that group. He spent a year living among the lower class in Paris and in England, even spending some of that time with homeless people. It was around that time that he began writing seriously and adopted the pen name George Orwell. While he was gaining respect as a writer, he also had “day jobs,” first as a teacher, and then as the proprietor of a pub and a general store.
Orwell became a Socialist in the 1930s, and when asked to report upon the Spanish Civil War, actually fought in defense of his political beliefs and in favor of a Socialist Spain. However, he was adamant about the differences in the Communist and Socialist philosophies and believed that Communism was a threat to Socialism. He joined in the battle, fighting on the side of the Republicans as a member of a Marxist political party, and he was injured during this service. While the Republicans were successful in the war, the Marxists were not; pro-Stalin factions took over the Republicans. This historical part of Orwell’s life undoubtedly helped contribute to his criticism of Stalin and helped serve as a foundation for Animal Farm, though he would not write the novel for several years.
Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in the years immediately following the end of World War II. Though Hitler and his allies were defeated, the war was a sobering experience and, for many, a disillusioning one. Three decades earlier, World War I had been touted as the war to “make the world safe for democracy.” Yet the flawed treaty that ended World War I led to an imperfect peace at best, and in the coming years governments came to power that were anything but democratic—most notably, Hitler’s Nazi government in Germany and Mussolini’s Fascist government in Italy.
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