The manuscript was rejected by four major houses, including Orwell’s publisher of record, Gollancz, and T. Included in Penguin’s 2000 edition of ,” the essay — penned more than seven decades after Mark Twain bewailed that “there are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press” — tackles issues all the more timely today in the midst of global media scandals, vicious censorship, and near-ubiquitous government-level political surveillance.Orwell begins by excerpting a letter from a publisher who had originally agreed to publish the book but later, under the Ministry of Information’s admonition, recanted: .Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.
After all, acres of rubbish are printed daily and no one bothers.
The English intelligentsia, or most of them, will object to this book because it traduces their Leader and (as they see it) does harm to the cause of progress.
If the fable were addressed generally to dictators and dictatorships at large then publication would be all right, but the fable does follow, as I see now, so completely the progress of the Russian Soviets and their two dictators, that it can apply only to Russia, to the exclusion of the other dictatorships.
Another thing: it would be less offensive if the predominant caste in the fable were not pigs.
This may well be true, but it is obviously not the whole of the story.
One does not say that a book “ought not to have been published” merely because it is a bad book.
I must confess that this expression of opinion has given me seriously to think …
I can see now that it might be regarded as something which it was highly ill-advised to publish at the present time.
Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say “Yes.” But give it a concrete shape, and ask, “How about an attack on Stalin? ” and the answer more often than not will be “No.” In that case the current orthodoxy happens to be challenged, and so the principle of free speech lapses.
If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what means. It always appears that they are not only those who attack it openly and consciously, but those who ‘objectively’ endanger it by spreading mistaken doctrines.