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What horrors did Orwell experience at Eton School and in Burma that caused him to produce such famous concepts as those conveyed by “Big Brother” and “1984”?




George Orwell (Eric Blair) popularised some now universal ideas and expressions in his most famous works: Animal Farm and 1984. But in fact it is possible to see that the foundations of his ideas were laid much earlier, and that in this respect he is like many musicians, artists and writers: much of what they have to say which is original is at least somewhat evident early in their careers.


Orwell attended Eton, then famous for the absolute and exploitative power of older boys (especially wealthy, well-connected ones) over younger boys (and especially scholarship boys like him) through the “fagging” system. Who knows what special horrors he endured?


Then, immediately out of Eton, he was posted to Burma as an Imperial Police Officer and then District Superintendent. In these roles, situated in remote outlying districts far from centralised scrutiny, he, and his colleagues in similar positions, possessed almost the power of life and death over hundreds of thousands of people; a power he sometimes saw abused.

It all comes out in his first novel, Burmese Days, where the abuse of power, and the dangers of any kind of total power, were clearly things which preoccupied his mind tremendously, long before he ever set pen to paper on his most famous works.



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