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George Orwell Show Honors ‘Doublespeak’ Legacy


A person reads a book next to copies of British writer George Orwell's "1984." (Photo by Aaron Tam / AFP)
George Orwell Show Honors ‘Doublespeak’ Legacy
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A new show in the American state of New Mexico is reminding visitors of the world George Orwell imagined in his book 1984.

Orwell wrote it in 1949 to warn people of their possible future. In the story, the government controls the population with propaganda. Every message from the extremely repressive leadership reverses the truth. Officials repeat “war is peace” and “freedom is slavery,” for example. The Ministry of Truth spreads lies. The Ministry of Love tortures lovers.

Orwell was British, but the book has been popular with readers around the world for many years.

The current show in New Mexico is called George Orwell: His Enduring Legacy. It includes posters and other pieces related to 1984. It also has objects related to another of his famous books, Animal Farm.

The show will be at the University of New Mexico’s Zimmerman Library in Albuquerque until April. It was launched after a professor at the school donated his collection of rare Orwell books.

They include first editions of Animal Farm and Animal Farm in Icelandic, Ukrainian, Swahili, French, Urdu, German, Hungarian and Spanish. The books in different languages show how many people Orwell reached.

Readers throughout the years have argued that Orwell remains relevant in their time. They say real news stories show how people use what Orwell called “doublespeak” – words that are supposed to be unclear. Or “thoughtcrimes,” ideas that government officials or crowds of people say should not be permitted.

In the U.S. today, some of President Donald Trump’s language has been called “Orwellian." For example, after Turkey attacked Kurdish population centers in the country, Trump said, “The Kurds are much safer right now.”

During Trump’s time in office, the book 1984 has become a best-seller in the U.S. again.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Russell Contreras wrote this story for the Associated Press. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

edition - n. a particular version of a book

legacy - n. something that happened in the past or that comes from someone in the past​

relevant - adj. relating to a subject in an appropriate way

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