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George Orwell's Illnesses Influenced '1984'

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posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 02:27 AM
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The gloomy stories of George Orwell were likely influenced by the writer's own ailments, including tuberculosis and infertility, according to a new study.

Orwell is best known for his novels "1984" and "Animal Farm."

The new study, by John Ross of Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston, recounts Orwell's sickly life. The research is slated to be published in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Orwell was born in India in 1903 as Eric Blair. He suffered multiple bouts of bronchitis and other respiratory ailments, Ross writes. As a young man, Orwell had several episodes of bacterial pneumonia, and also contracted dengue fever while in Burma. He was a heavy smoker, and he suffered fits of coughing from a condition called bronchiectasis.

In 1938, Orwell went to a sanatorium because he was coughing up blood. He was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis. Treatment consisted of simple bed rest and good nutrition, and he was discharged several months later.

Eight years later, depressed by his wife’s death, Orwell moved to a windy and damp Scottish island. His health worsened significantly just as he was working on the first draft of "1984," Ross reports. Fever, weight loss, and night sweats sent him to the hospital, where he underwent “collapse therapy,” a treatment designed to close the dangerous cavities that form in the chests of tuberculosis patients.

Relying on Orwell's own descriptions of the treatment, Ross says it "may have influenced the depiction of the tortures of Winston Smith in the Ministry of Love" in "1984."


Source

An interesting little article for Orwell fans.


However you choose to view it.




posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 05:42 AM
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Hi Dulcimer

Thanks for posting that. The study would reinforce what researchers and grad students spend SO many years discovering (even though you think by now they would know) brilliant writers are a messed-up bunch!


I think pain, illnesss, depression, struggle, despair, madness, etc, all contribute and in many cases are the impetus for artists to want to get their point across.

What it doesn't prove, is that these factors on their own makes them great writers automatically. So that people sitting around reading the research say 'OH, well... no WONDER he wrote all those gloomy, dark things, if I had some gloomy, dark things in my life, I too could pen 1984 or something far, far better.'

Orwell had great style, his prose was clean, he had a wicked sense of humour and a talent for political satire. Aside from his physical and mental ailments, he also cared about the social injustices of man. He was a staunch supporter of socialism, hated fascism, faught in the Lincoln Brigade and (politically) he was a driven idealist criticising his own government and everyone else's.

I have no doubt that the poverty he lived in most of his life, contributed greatly to his view of the world and the inequalities within. That he used his personal experiences and sorrows, again, is probably a certainty, although we can never be absolutely sure that his reality nightmares later became his fictional ones.

Writers like all artists use their pain to create. But what is not said here is that despite all that, a writer uses his imagination to pull himself out of the world they currently live in, to produce the amazing books they leave behind. Sometimes quite beautiful works too.

A grad student will (and does) spend months researching the type of breakfast Orwell ate and how that relates somehow to his writing, or the fact that when Orwell was 6, his pet pig died and that forever more affected his view on barnyard animals. That is what researchers do, so again this study should come as no surprise to academia or anyone.

If he had a normal, nice, unperturbed life, would Orwell still have been an amazing writer? Yes.

Would he have been driven to slave away day after day, writing unpopular things and feeling sick, crazy and grief stricken for the sake of his art? Probably not...



posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 05:51 AM
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You guys are amazing. You figured how to turn the fictional psychologists from 1984 and turn them into real people to critize a doubleplusbad thoughtcrime publication.

so he had a breathing problem? i note that the Ross guy doesnt give source for this so called mental delusion.
www.idsociety.org.../ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm

"Dr. Ross suggests that Shakespeare’s tremulous signature on his will, his social withdrawal in later years, and even his baldness might all be due to a mild degree of mercury vapor poisoning."

two writers, two forms of the same poisoning (oxygen problems). is this guy a psychologist or a respiratory doctor?



posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 06:05 AM
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Originally posted by NuTroll
You guys are amazing. You figured how to turn the fictional psychologists from 1984 and turn them into real people to critize a doubleplusbad thoughtcrime publication.


Who are you talking about? Who is 'amazing'? Did you even READ what I wrote? No one criticising anything, least of all 1984.



posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 11:32 AM
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I'm very anti-socialism, but I for one enjoy 1984 and Animal Farm. My mother sent me a book containing the two stories.

I'm of the impression that what's going on in an author's life has an influence on the stories they write. That kinda goes along with "write what you know about."



posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 02:00 AM
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I'm not going to say anything that hasn't been said before, but he truely was a great author. I haven't read any of his books for a while, the last being Homage to Catalonia a couple of years ago. However, seeing this thread has reminded me that I borrowed a copy of Down And Out In Paris And London from a friend a few weeks ago. I had completely forgotten! Thanks.



posted on Oct, 25 2005 @ 02:07 AM
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Originally posted by Implosion
Seeing this thread has reminded me that I borrowed a copy of Down And Out In Paris And London from a friend a few weeks ago. I had completely forgotten! Thanks.


I knew my life had some higher meaning.




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