Friday, 27 April 2007

Orwell Prize

I was very pleased to see that there's an Orwell Prize for political writing in the UK. This year's winner (for a book) was Professor Peter Hennessy (more), and the BBC 2 Newsnight programme also won a special award. Hennessy's book, Having It So good: Britain In The Fifties, is on the Macmillan period, and as a child of that era myself I am pleased to see it being given serious recognition.

I was first introduced to Orwell the political essayist when I was at school and I have admired him ever since. I always introduce my students to the rules for good writing that he promulgated in his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language", and challenge them to devise better rules or to demonstrate that his rules are no longer valid. They haven't succeeded yet. I don't think many of the students I meet think of Winston Smith when they hear the words "Big Brother", more's the pity.

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