GEORGE ORWELL died in 1950. He had become famous with the publication of Animal Farm in 1945, and much more famous with the publication Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949. But he was too ill to enjoy his fame, and he died of tuberculosis at the age of 46. Since then, he has grown steadily more and more famous, and after becoming a classic in his own life he has now become a name known by virtually everyone who reads at all. Almost all his books have been continually reprinted, and most of his shorter writings have also been conveniently reprinted in the four-volume Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters. Of all modern writers, in fact, he is one of the easiest to get hold of; he is also one of the easiest to get to grips with, for all his work has a style and structure which are so spare and simple and a personality and purpose which are so peculiar and powerful that introduction and explanation are virtually unnecessary. In a way, then, there is no need to read about Orwell at all, only to read Orwell; but this hasn’t stopped many people writing about him.
Article paru dans Workers Hammer, No 104, February 1989, p. 1-9
On 14 January, 1500 Muslim fanatics gathered in front of the town hall in Bradford, West Yorkshire and burnt copies of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. It grotesquely recalled the medieval Christian inquisition and book-burning orgies of Hitler’s stormtroopers. Confirming the controversial novel’s characterisation of the fundamentalist motto “Burn the books and trust the Book”, the protesters accused Rushdie’s latest book of blasphemy. Leading them all was an unholy alliance of Bradford’s Council of Mosques and prominent Labour Party councillors, including ex-mayor Mohammed Ajeeb. One book-burner vowed, “Our next move will be to ensure the book is banned in the whole world. If he [Rushdie] comes here, I tell you he will be dead” (Independent, 21 January). Another demonstration in London two weeks later brought out large numbers of Muslims – reportedly overwhelmingly male – to protest the book. This frenzy of Islamic fundamentalism could provoke a wider racist backlash engulfing fundamentalist and secular minorities alike. Down with religious obscurantism! Let Satanic Verses be read!