Would George Orwell have owned a smartphone?

George Orwell’s accreditation photo for the Branch of the National Union of Journalists. (Source: Wikimedia, public domain)

There’s a wonderful line in George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write”:

To write in plain vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox.


I found that quote and its attribution on the webpage “Rise of Modern Propaganda.”  The only problem is that you can read “Why I Write” from beginning to end and you’ll never read that line.

Instead, it comes from his essay “The Prevention of Literature,” a long but interesting piece that focuses in large part on how totalitarian societies don’t create literature.

 It’s just another example of errors spread on the internet, but it brings me to the question of what a fearless thinker like Orwell would think of the internet age?  How would Orwell write of it: as the democratizer of knowledge or the democratizer of ignorance?  Would he have masqueraded as a poor person on the road to Wiggan Peer or as a cellphone infatuated millennial on the road to the future?  What version of Animal Farm would he write today?

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