Unpublished Typescript about George Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four
first editionNo Binding
by STONE, Robert
(n.p): (n.p.). [ca. 1983]. In 1983, Robert Stone, National Book Award-winning novelist, was commissioned to write a piece on George Orwell and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, as that calendar year approached. In the piece, Stone made an effort to reclaim Orwell from the conservative right wing, which had taken his most famous, anti-totalitarian novels -- Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm -- to be explicit condemnations of the Soviet Union and Communism, and by implication all leftist thought itself. Instead, Stone argues that Orwell's writing in Homage to Catalonia -- not to mention his fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War -- identifies Orwell as someone with both a socialist sympathy and "a certain affinity with what I believe is best about the United States," a kind of Puritanism that is characterized by "rectitude...conscience and common sense." He goes on to point out that Orwell "was the sort of radical who makes enemies on both sides of epic struggles," owing to his "originality and intelligence, [and] above all his thoroughgoing honesty, [which] always got him in trouble. A writer and man more predictable and dull, less infernally scrupulous would have had a better time of it." Stone adds that Orwell was idealistic but non-ideological -- as Stone was himself -- and deeply committed to the kind of "pragmatism that has characterized American moral thinkers from Jefferson to James to Neibuhr." He concludes that "We may never produce a greater political novel than Nineteen Eighty-Four" and that "it has done its work for us" in shaping our fears and cautions sufficiently for us to have avoided the totalitarian dystopia that was latent in the post-War years of the Cold War. The confluence of writer and subject here was, in many ways, a near-perfect one but the piece seems never to have been published; we can find no record of it; a cover letter from Stone's wife, Janice, indicates this was done for Thames Television, but whether it was produced or used remains unknown to us. One of Stone's novels includes an allusion to a critical moment in Nineteen Eighty-Four: Stone's character explains that one has "to look the gray rat in the eye" -- an allusion to the torture by rats that Winston Smith, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is faced with, which causes him to "break" and betray himself and his loved ones. 18 pages, ribbon copy typescript, with Janice Stone's cover letter, laid into an agent's folder. Fine. An unknown Robert Stone piece, on a subject that touches close to many of the central and pervasive themes of his own writings. Unique. First Edition. No Binding. Near Fine. (Inventory #: 032829)
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