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Lies, Damned Lies and Literature: George Orwell and ‘The Truth’

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Abstract

This article sets out to illustrate the value of imaginative literature as a tool of political analysis. It investigates the nature of truth and lies principally through a discussion of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Hannah Arendt's concerns about new forms of political lying provide a platform for a detailed analysis of Orwell's depiction of the struggle between the individual and the state over the nature of reality and truth. We consider the plausibility of the Party's attempt to recreate the truth in its own image, especially through the control of language. Orwell's novel, we shall conclude, stands as a stark warning against allowing civil society to atrophy and the state to subvert ordinary language, thereby destroying the basis of representative government, trust.

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