George Orwell Always in the News Number 16

George Orwell Always in the News

Number 16

The Crystal Spirit Found World Wide

What message would you leave if you had no idea how long it would be before it was read, or could be read, or even how it would be read? Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949), wrote:

‘To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink – greetings!’

Does it seem verbose, blustering, full of rhodomontade? Here is what real men wrote in near-identical conditions, political prisoners used in construction battalions:

‘This message was immured on 15 March 1954.

‘There were no cheers from the crowds and no orchestra as it was happening.

‘But it will tell our descendants that this theatre was built not with the forces of Komsomol brigades – as they will be claiming – but on the blood and bones of prisoners, the slaves of the 20th century.

‘Hello, future generation! And may your era have no slavery and no humiliation of man by man.

‘Cheers from us, prisoners IL Kozhin, PG Sharipov, UN Nigmatulin.’

(Daily Mail, 4 June 2015)

It seems that what Orwell had seen among the fighters in Spain and called ‘the crystal spirit’ was not a rare diamond, but could be found wherever the human spirit proved itself unbreakable.


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