ORWELL'S REVENGE

THE 1984 PALIMPSEST

A curious, contentious, but always interesting sequel cum polemic that conjures up the ghost in Orwell's machine. Huber (Galileo's Revenge, 1991), a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute for Policy Research, has two abiding convictions: that 1984 remains ``the most important book published since the war'' for its prescient recognition that the information and technology culture would pose the late 20th century's determining challenges for human culture; and that Orwell was nevertheless ``completely, irredeemably, outrageously wrong'' about the implications of the technology he so perspicaciously portrayed. Writing from a postCold War, postinformation superhighway perspective, Huber argues that the convergence of information and communication technologies Orwell foresaw in his ``telescreen,'' far from condemning society to the grim panoptic coercion of the Party, are by their nature driven toward the creation of markets in information and services that will inevitably elude the grasp of centralizing authority and ultimately topple it (adducing as evidence the Internet and the role of information technology in the collapse of the Soviet empire). He makes this case in a singular fashion, alternating passages of conventional literary and political critique with his own sequel cum rewrite of 1984—a patented computer-aided ``palimpsest'' assembled largely in Orwell's own words from shreds and patches of both the original novel and his other writings—in which the fearsome interrogator O'Brien, the Party, and the vast totalitarian superstates all perish not by self-conscious political activism or revolt, but simply through the innate logic of the technology they wrongly believed they could control. Many readers may question Huber's libertarian faith in market forces and in the inevitable Big Brotherdom of all social planning or collective endeavor; and matters aren't helped by a style whose affectations, when not simply reformatting Orwell, can border on the precious. But overstated and overlong as it may be, Huber's undertaking remains ambitious, strikingly original, and thoroughly provocative.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-02-915335-2

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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