By Tom Winnifrith
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Extra info for 1984 And All's Well?
The fat prole lady also gives Nineteen Eighty-Four a far greater sense of optimism than anything Julia can provide, and after all julia and Winston's affair is doomed from the start, as they themselves recognise. Writing in 1983 we find it difficult to believe that Orwell could have been quite so harsh about contraception or abortion if he had been alive today, since the shattering effects of the population explosion in Third World countries would surely have worried him. Even in this sphere Western thinkers exhibit a certain amount of doublethink.
We destroy it because we feel at best it is irrelevant, and at worst obstructive to the aims of our society. Therefore, in teaching history to the young there has been a movement from wars, dynasties, treaties and elections to food, clothing and conditions of industry. Often as not the subject is not called history, but 'social studies'. No doubt one reason for the official enthusiasm for a social approach to history is that in a century which thinks of itself as the century of the common man it is felt that attention should be paid to the lives of ordinary folk; our egalitarian principles are gratified if we are seen to be showing as much interest in the peasant in the open field as to the king on the battlefield.
Of course, interpretations of history will depend on one's prejudices and point of view. Whether Joan of Arc heard voices or 'voices' may well depend on which side of the English Channel one is born. Whether you prefer Jefferson or Hamilton will depend perhaps on your own political views, your character, even, some might claim, your relations with your parents. These are differences of emphasis or interpretation or even taste. \Ve all see the past through our own particular spectacles, but deliberate fabrication of historical evidence, the sort of activity that takes place in Nineteen Eighty-Four's Ministry of Truth, is relatively rare in the West.