Blida Department of English: Free Stand to Stand Free
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George Orwell: 1984

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George Orwell: 1984

Post by Ezinma on Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:26 am

Hi everyone,

After talking to members of the reading group, I felt like I want to jot down a few words about the book we're reading together these days, 1984 by George Orwell.

I'll start first by this link about the biography of Orwell; since I believe reading a bit about the author's life may help us understand his work. I don't believe in the death of the author, or 'La Mort de l'auteur' as Barthes believes, and as the New Critics claimed. For them, the text itself is what matters, any biographical study and any interpretation of the text by studying the author's life will simply enshrine the text into a single meaning related to the author. However, they believed that a text must has a single meaning, based on a close reading and interpretation of the text itself independent from any biographical reading.

For the biography of George Orwell, check this website: Click


What do you think mates? Do you believe in the death of the author? Do you think reading about the author may reduce from the freedom of the reader, since studying the author's biography permits us to know about his milieu, the time during which he wrote his work...etc, and thus his intentions?


To be continued... I'll try to post something about 1984: part one of the book
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Ezinma

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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by Hush on Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:03 pm

The author never dies yet his intentions or what he "really" means vanishes through the triple distance we have to the perception of meaning. First, there's a distance between what the writer wants to say and what he says, that distance between the abstract naked idea he has in mind or he feels in a given moment then what the reader has as words dressing the bare idea. What the reader sees are the symbols and not the "real" idea the author wanted (or not) to communicate. This is the first distance between the idea in the realm of the abstract to the idea in the realm of language. Then came the reader who reads the words not as they "really" mean but as he thinks of them, it's decoding the words not as in a mathematical equation: 1+1 = 2 but as word +word = infinite set of meaning. The reader hence is a second writer from the stance that he is dressing the words with another dress different then the one of the writer. We have to keep in mind that the reader is not dressing a naked idea but an already dressed one, i.e. he has access just to the clothes not to the flesh and soul of the idea as formulated by the author. Now the reader in another distance will "interpret" what he has as idea, i.e. trying to strip the newly dressed thought and figure it out in what's called meaning.

Author (abstract thought) ===> text (dressed thought) ====> Reader (reading = new dress + undressing the idea (from its new dress) ===> Reader (abstract thought = MEANING).

I have just to say that an abstract thought doesn't mean a thought apart from language because I do believe the idea can't exist without a language. This same language isn't innocent and influences the perception of the idea.

To understand the author's context isn't important for the understanding of the author's intention but rather important in claiming we understood "what the author means". This claim endows the reader with a given authenticity, and can be used for ideological purposes. No matter what the author meant but what matters is what we make the others believe he meant and how do we use that. It's not always used for ideological reasons because most of the time people are happy when they believe they UNDERSTOOD what the author meant! This euphoria makes them believe they're intelligent and that's an aim in itself.

Does it make sense?!
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Hush

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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by Ezinma on Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:23 pm

Hush wrote: Does it make sense?!

Surely it does. I strongly agree and like usual I've learnt new great things.

Hush wrote: No matter what the author meant but what matters is what we make the others believe he meant and how do we use that...[/color]

I have a question, but I think it won't make sense at all.
Since it's agreed that meaning is produced by the reader and you said: "Now the reader in another distance will "interpret" what he has as idea, i.e. trying to strip the newly dressed thought and figure it out in what's called meaning", so why do we interpret texts in class? Why do we read them together and all the students (well I guess the teacher for most of the time) try to say what the author means? I don't think that all the students respond to what their teacher 'thinks'... but since the teacher seems to know more, then they respond passively and agree on the given "meaning". It's like being indoctrinated to an absolute meaning much like the equation 1+1=2, without infinite possibilities.

I remember that one of my teachers wrote once on the board a sentence and asked us all to interpret it... we had 5 to 6 attempts which were completely different from each other and just a few that resemble the teacher's intention (the writer) after being revealed. That was the sentence:

"You opened the day coldly, you closed it coldly and lucky are those you warmed by the middle of it. How moody, tenderly cruel you are"

If my question is nonsensical or laughable, then do ignore it.
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Ezinma

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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by special guy on Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:22 am

hi Ezinma and Hush...to be honest, i liked this discussion....Hush: you made me think a lot about reading and the idea of meaning....please friends carry on ...i'm really happy that i'm part of this forum albeit i rarely post on it....i do apologize....

special guy

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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by Hush on Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:24 am

Since it's agreed that meaning is produced by the reader and you said: "Now the reader in another distance will interpret" what he has as idea, i.e. trying to strip the newly dressed thought and figure it out in what's called meaning", so why do we interpret texts in class?
First there's something important to say, it is vital to say that the reader's interpretation is not purely imaginative nor innocent! It means there's something that leads to it, be it conscious or unconscious. Actually it's a reflection of the self on the text and the print of the text on the self, besides a discovery of the self through the text, all leading to the being! (I would suggest some readings of hermeneutics)

To answer your question , according to my point of view, we interpret texts in class because the act of interpretation is most of the time didactic and is in itself an epistemological means.

It's not The interpretation given by the teacher that matters but the act of interpreting and I believe all interpretations are important if not academicly, they are valuable from many other perspectives (psychological, philosophical, theological, social, etc)

Why do we read them together and all the students (well I guess the teacher for most of the time) try to say what the author means? Most of the time to establish his authority I guess as the one who KNOWS! I believe most of the time some students interpretations are better than the teacher's ONE or even better than some critics interpretations. Who cares about what the author meant? We care about what we have as a text may cause to those who read it. What is the use of a text in a given context or simply how BEAUTIFUL the text may seem to someone or to a group of readers. Or simply to learn new words and kill boredom
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Hush

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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by Ezinma on Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:36 pm

Thank you Hush for your answer. What you wrote gave me an overall explanation to my question and encouraged me to read about the Reader-Response Theory. Fabulous! Theories again just like the old days. study I like this one: "A text sitting on a shelf does nothing. It does not come alive until reader and text are joined".

"Or simply to learn new words and kill boredom Sleep "

Yes, I think that's what happen most of the time.

Always grateful!
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Ezinma

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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by haku on Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:42 pm

oh my God some people talked about my best novel in my absence sorry for being a little bit late but can you speak about Animal Farm?
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Re: George Orwell: 1984

Post by schneller on Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:49 am

Going through the posts above quickly, you, guys, talked about everything but the Novel 1984 !!

Well, I read that book (I got a hard copy at home) and it's one of my best Dystopian Novels. I just didn't like the tragic end, where Mr. Winston Smith dies loving the Big Brother ! Also, I've been a hell of disappointed when I knew that O'Brien was deceiving Winston Smith.
Anyway, I'd love to hear from you, guys, some comments/remarks/reflections about the book.
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