The Derelict Appendages of Criticism


by Leonard Pierce

Nineteen Eighty-Four is not often thought of as a useful text for illumination of the art of criticism, but like all great writers, Orwell contained multitudes of meaning in his writing, leaving great lessons barely concealed for application to whatever subject needed them.  At the book’s very beginning, Winston Smith opens his newly acquired diary, and can’t quite begin to write.  For a moment, he cannot even recall why he did something so potentially damning.  But then it makes sense:  he begins to write, and does not stop until his hands start to cramp, because he must do something, anything, to displace the endlessly streaming monologue that has been running through his head for years.  This is what is worth death to him:  the transference of thought to page.

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