Orwell’s "Politics and the English Language" in the Age of Pseudocracy visits the essay as if for the first time, clearing away lore about the essay and responding to the prose itself. It shows how many of Orwell’s rules and admonitions are far less useful than they are famed to be, but it also shows how some of them can be refurbished for our age, and how his major claim—that politics corrupts language, which then corrupts political discourse further, and so on indefinitely—can best be re-deployed today. "Politics and the English Language" has encouraged generations of writers and readers and teachers and students to take great care, to be skeptical and clear-sighted. The essay itself requires a fresh, clear, skeptical analysis so that it can, with reapplication, reclaim its status as a touchstone in our era of the rule of falsehood: the age of "pseudocracy."
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Be Careful What You Assign—Your Students Might Read It
2. Re-Reading "Politics and the English Language"
3. You Can’t Handle the Truthiness: How "Politics and the English Language" Suits
4. Orwell’s Corpora Delectorum: How Orwell’s Memorable Offences
5. Toward Habits of Discernment: Refurbishing Orwell’s Lists Amid Pseudocracy
Hans Ostrom is Professor of African American Studies at the University of Puget Sound, USA. His previous publications include A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia, Honoring Juanita: a Novel, and Metro: Journeys in Creative Writing, written with Wendy Bishop and Katharine Haake. He has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Uppsala University in Sweden.
William Haltom, Professor of Politics and Government at the University of Puget Sound, USA, teaches courses in politics and law. He is co-author of Distorting the Law (Chicago 2004) and "The Laws of God, the Laws of Man: Power, Authority, and Influence in ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ " Legal Studies Forum (1998).
Featured Author Profiles
"Ostrom and Haltom properly chide all of us who have been uncritically assigning Orwell’s essay to our students for years and dazzle the reader with their deep analysis of the hidden ironies at play, all while reconstructing Orwell’s warnings for a new century in which that concern is even more serious. An absolute must-read." --Seán Patrick Eudaily, University of Montana Western, USA