LITERATURE - George Orwell

George Orwell is the most famous English language writer of the 20th century, the author of Animal Farm and 1984. What was he trying to tell us and what is his genius? If you like our films, take a look at our shop (we ship worldwide):

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Produced in collaboration with:

Mike Booth

  • Up and Atom

    Can you do a video about Vladimir Nabokov next?

  • Up and Atom

    This video made me feel sadness at the world and awe at george orwell at the same time.

  • Peter Cahill

    "Sophisticated entertainment and empty headed news reports all wrapped up in a constant reference to freedom." Sounds like America.

  • Joel Ashworth

    'George Orwell is the perfect example of what intellectual honesty and intellectual integrity can do in the hands of an unaided person. He never had a steady publisher, a steady job, or a steady place to live; was always ill, and always poor. But still, he managed to outlive and diagnose correctly the three problems of his time; namely, Fascism, Stalinism, and Imperialism. He is an imperishable example.' Christopher Hitchens

  • Lua Veli

    What I loved the most from this lesson is that " the real purpose of literature is to change the world " and that " human beings should behave better".In Turkish the word we have for intellectual is " Aydin" which means "illuminated". So understandably, you would expect it from those illuminated people in the first place, to change the world for the better and to behave well. But it's often NOT the case. That's why I understand Orwell's hatred towards them. Of course I don't hate anybody but I find them rather scary. The most frightening thing about human beings is our capacity to delude ourselves. And it seems that intellectuals are especially good at it. The more you know, and the better you get in forming arguments, the more tools you have at hand to convince yourself and the others about any lie you want. It seems that leaving the ethics behind becomes very easy for them. So no wonder you have that history professor from a fancy university in Istanbul claiming that Armenian genocide didn't happen. Or an impressive mind like Heidegger saying " Heil Hitler". I love books, but I avoid the writers. One of our most beloved poets Nazim Hikmet has a poem where he says:" The songs of people are more beautiful than the people". The same for their books I would say. So there is really no need to give too much credit to people's academic titles etc. They can be just as lost, confused and vicious as anybody else. We should check out their ideas and take what seems beautiful and moral to us and leave the rest. Of course there are also those people I deeply admire, some of whom happen to be intellectuals. Like Alain and a few others. But I love them most of all for their humanity and generosity and not so much for their knowledge, but for their INTEGRITY in " embodying" the wisdom they are offering to us. Thank you so much for this very inspiring lesson! Congratulations to the animator too!

  • Ben Macdowall

    Aldous Huxley next while we're on the topic of dystopian fiction

  • Cesar Ramirez

    Could you do a video on Oscar Wilde? It would be a good contrast from Orwell. Art as a political/cultural tool vs Art for Art's sake.

  • Moysés Gurgel

    School of Life has so much to do with me that sometimes I think this channel is a projection of my mind to teach me through videos what I need to know about myself.

  • TheJailbreaker

    It's about time! thank you, could you please do a film on Modernism and Post Modernism ?

  • North of the Console

    Do a video on H.P. Lovecraft!!!

  • Clyde Hidershaj

    Human behavior is a consequence of system design. Within the free market economy whose dominant trademark is competition, decency is not incentivized/rewarded structurally. When we redesign our socio-economic system to facilitate decent behavior, human beings will behave decently by default.

  • Lester Green

    shouts out to the guy who has to edit these videos, theyre tight

  • C.Griffin


  • plica06

    Best TSOL video in a long time. Brilliant!

  • Jack Keville

    1984 is an incredibly eye-opening book, its theme relevant now more than ever. It really changes ones perception of the world.

  • Snatch737

    I'd say that 1984 is fundamentally about silencing ideas, not about blinding people with sex. Wasn't the sex suppresses under the totalitarian regime of 1984? It was made with purpose to make people frustrated if I remember correctly. And I think that Animal Farm was mostly about Soviet Union, like stealing the windmill from one pig to another, representation of stealing industrialization plans from Trocky by Stalin.He also hated British elites for sympathies for communism and Stalin. He called them by the worst names on earth for that. And I'm surprised that you forgot (or intended to miss) to mention a fact that Orwell moved to the Soviet Union and then to the Communist Spain. It's a important fact, he wrote his two most famous books due to his journey.

  • Chadi Aboueid

    Victor Hugo anytime soon?

  • rmeddy1

    Didn't appreciated him properly until reading Why Orwell Matters from Hitchens.

  • Dezső Kaffantó

    I think he is one of the best writers ever !

  • pedro alexandre

    Do one about the brazilian writer machado de Assis please

  • OE Beats

    What a coincidence, I just started reading this book last week.

  • Avacado's Constant

    I wonder what the literary greats of the 22nd century are doing now. Maybe some were just born. Some are attending highschool. Maybe one of them just got fired from a mundane job.

  • Bernie Sanders

    This might be your best video yet

  • Michal Toman

    Come on, how can you do a video essay about Orwell and not mention that how was a socialist (democratic, not communist)?Is that a dirty word still? And the fact that he fought in the Spanish civil war for his belief in socialism and against fascism, was in my view crucial to development of his later beliefs. I know it's a short time and so many things to say, but at least a mention would be warranted. By the way, not to just complain, I highly recommend the complete collection of Orwell's essays. It's a great window into his thinking.

  • gravity eyelids

    I'm a foreign teenager, I enjoy watching your videos a lot, especially the ones about literature. It's so easy to understand every word and the meaning of every sentence, I'm extremely happy that I discovered you. Could you make a video about Edgar Allan Poe? I just started reading his stories and want to know more about him. Of course I'll read the biography in my language but you make some very interesting points, which is the reason I ask you for it. Thank you.

  • Paul Merlin

    11:50 good thing today's world didn't turn out to be like Orwell described... gradually goes from laughter to tears

  • bjsmith503

    No mention of his time in Spain (Homage to Catalonia was great), or his socialist beliefs/ethics? Bummer. Also, the interpretation of 1984 is a bit off in my opinion. The people of Oceania aren't lulled by entertainment, but are driven by fear of a brutal, violent state and an understanding that this can be avoided by conforming into the social orthodoxy. For a better literary example of authoritarian societies that use entertainment for control read Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, or Huxley's Brave New World (though this is more drugs, sex, and conditioning). All of these societies require a population that has been brutalized (through war, sensory overload, traumatic upbringing) to a point where it will accept a false reality in preference to actual reality.

  • Βουλγαροκτόνος1014

    I would love to see a video on William Faulkner or Herman Melville.

  • Saskia H.

    You've got no idea how long I've silently waited for this. Finally! :)

  • Queen Janeway

    One of your best videos! I've always wanted to know more about Orwell, thank you so much.

  • Marc AG

    It's so disappointing to see that probably the most determinant event to happen in Orwel's life, his enrollment in the international brigades that fought in the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, is completely ignored despite being one of the crucial factors that drove him to write 1984. I guess this channel is scared of going against hegemonic ideology by saying that Orwel was an anti-Stalinist communist. Or maybe it's even more sad and it is due to the personal bias of the author that he is deliberately choosing to ignore such facet of the author. Pathetic regardless. If only the audience of this channel were not stupid and would call you out.

  • G.I. JOE RO

    He was staunchly against communism as you should be!!!!!!!!!!!

  • M B

    I was under the impression that Orwell was sympathetic towards Marxism. He was disillusioned with the Soviet Union. Many Socialists and Marxist intellectuals at the time believed Soviet propaganda until they realized that Stalinism had replaced the ideals of the October Revolution.

  • Azaracus

    George Orwell's intellectuals sounds like today's hipsters.

  • Harrison Darby

    I'm a tad confused that his quote "Every line of work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it" (from the piece Why I Write mentioned in the video) was omitted from this. I understand that this was an intellectual breakdown of his thoughts, but when you go into how he thought of writing and political writing at that, I view it as a tad dishonest not to inform people about his political thought. As a Socialist and devout reader and lover of Orwell, I find the lack of mention of his political school of thought to be a large fault, if not an outwardly mendacious one. You might wonder why I seem to be so worked up about it, but you must understand that Orwell is oftentimes used as an example of ANTI-Socialist thought by the Right, due to the general thought that the Soviet Union was Socialism and the fact he criticised it. I think it is crucial, when we break down the Great Political Thoughts of the past, to acknowledge where they lied, ESPECIALLY when those very thoughts are commonly maligned. So, for the knowledge of everyone who bothers to read the comment section, George Orwell was indeed a Democratic Socialist who wrote to further its thought.

  • Max Roe Banks

    I don't think we live in an Orwellian nightmare We are in a Brave New World

  • BobWidlefish

    "private property is an obstructive nuisance" well I suppose nobody is right all the time.

  • conan263

    Animal Farm is commie bashing1984 is capitalism bashing.

  • Bruno N.

    1984 is one of the best books I've ever read.

  • Lord Murphy

    Can you do a video on rabindranath tagore, plzzz!!!

  • xiao-echo

    that Abbot reference made evey aussie smile

  • Henry

    My favourite thing about Orwell has to be how both the Right and the Left tend to "Claim" Orwell. Anarchists say he was on their side, for his hatred of Authoritarianism. But this is interpreted as a disdane in Govournment, which is not necessairly what Orwell believes.The Left Claims him, because was infact a socialist. But if he was anything, he was a believer in Free Speach, something the new Left seems to be abbandoning (i.e. Safe Spaces and Micro aggressions).The Conservative Right Claims him because he was strongly against Communism. Which isn't entirely true as he literally fought a civil war against Fascists in Spain allong side of some Communists. Not to mention his thoughts about Religious Doctrine and his opinion about the false Meritocracy propagated by the Right, also seen in his essay about Charles Dickens.People seem to forget he was first of all Anti-Thought Police and Censorship, then a Socialist, then a reporter and finally a lover of humanity (which he saw dying out)

  • Joshua Casper

    Bravo. Well done. Hitchens would be proud.

  • Joe Champagne

    Can I just say the comments here are amazing, bravo everyone.

  • Name: Unknown

    This channel is always talking about 'the ordinary man'. No matter who they are talking about, within the first two minutes they've uttered the words 'ordinary people'. It's about annoying. I am fairly skeptical that all these various philosophers were busy with the this same bland topic but if the School of Life is accurate in their representations then it is really highlighting a monotony in Philosophy which makes me more disillusioned than interested.

  • Qaedtg H

    I don't know why so many people say, "can you do an episode about {insert favorite author}" There is plenty of information online, research it yourself and you can make your own assesment of the author, you don't need School of Life to spoonfeed it to you.

  • Orson Welles

    Do Bill Watterson next.

  • Gray Beard

    Orwell was no moderate, at the end of his life he was a Libertarian Socialist (anarchist) because that is the system which most serves the 'ordinary people'

  • Frederick Wilkins

    Aldous Huxley would make a good one too.

  • rahul gaur

    The silence that follows after your video ends puts me in a state of deep contemplation.


    nothing about his participation in the spanish civil war and how it shaped his political views? homage to catalunia is a good book for anyone interested in his time in spain

  • Matt Gilbert

    I think it is a grave error to downplay the importance of the suppression of free speech as portrayed in 1984.

  • joão emanuel

    make one about Hanna Arendt

  • Aaron F

    Most people forget that Orwell was a socialist. He said, "A Socialist United States of Europe seems to me the only worthwhile political objective today." He also wrote Homage To Catalonia which praised the left-wing anarchist movement occurring in Catalonia, Spain. He wrote, "It was the first time I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. There was much in it I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I immediately recognized it as a state of affairs worth fighting for."

  • Francesc Calvet

    Why you don't say nothing about his experience in the Spanish Civil War?

  • D. Samara

    Ah, I was hoping the video would focus a bit on the importance of Homage to Catalonia, the precursor for his two best-known novels. Still, the video was more than I hoped for. Thank you!

  • Derek Gunn

    The best of all videos on literature.Fantastic.

  • thyago oliveira

    I love your videos on literature! Could you make one on Italo Calvino?

  • the11382

    10:46 That isn't true. Oceania has the same ideology of the other 2 superpowers. This is said in the book "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" by Emmanual Goldstein within the book of 1984.George Orwell is a great writer. His death is a tragedy. If he lived 20 years longer, what kind of wisdom would we attain from it?

  • Michael Gifford

    I agree with Orwell on a lot of things and love his prose but I disagree with his view on the "intellectual" writing of his day. Those writings are very beautiful and opens the mind to see language itself as not just a medium of relaying information but as an art form. I understand where he is coming from and Orwell is free to have disdain upon such forms of literature but at the same time "to each his own."

  • ElusvOptmst1

    1984 is now! However, its all political parties that are distracting us. Keep the masses distracted because if they knew what was happening behind the scenes would be too hard to comprehend, a complete nightmare. Everyone is living in their own delusion of what is right or wrong, good or bad. In reality, the world could be better but no one in power truly wants it. The controlling powers only worship money and greed nothing else. These are the gods they believe in, work hard for. Things will always be like this because mankind is full of immoral immortals; the us against them mentality. I think we are born just to suffer. Because in this time and place, the act of doing good is conceived as a negative trait and the act of doing bad is conceived as being honorable and good. The boundaries have been crossed and to Hell with empathy, sympathy and the general good of mankind. We all will die and this cycle of life will continue, until the end of whatever we call existence.

  • fbspin

    1984 changed my life, amazing book

  • 007MrYang

    12:11 LOL was that Senran Kagura?

  • Carla MSM

    That line outside the Mac store is so on point.

  • deannnkid

    What about homage to Catalonia and George Orwells anarchist influences

  • InTheLimit

    I'm picking up on a trend: that this channel like to ignore/not take seriously the anti-capitalist views of the figures it presents. Orwell at one point joined a socialist party, fought with a Trotskyist group in the Spanish Civil War, and was profoundly impressed by the left wing anarchist society in Catalonia during the war (he said if he did it again, he would have joined the anarchist fighters).Evidence: 1) "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it." - In "Why I Write" (1946)2) "Homage to Catalonia" is, among other things, an attempt to show how the Soviet Union was a perverse, totalitarian form of socialism, but was not the only type of socialism. In it, he describes at length how Trotskyist and anarchist forms of socialism were worth fighting for. He retained these views at least until 1943, since he repeats many of them in his essay "Looking back on the Spanish War" from that year.3) Moreover, if you read "Homage to Catalonia" and "1984" back to back, you can't help but notice the similarities of both the antagonists (the Stalinists/fascists and Big Brother) and the protagonists (the Trotskyists/anarchists and Goldstein/the proles).4) Remember that Snowball, the pig representing Trotsky, is presented favorably in "Animal Farm." However, Orwell seems to have complicated feelings about the figure, since in "Notes on Nationalism" (1945) he says that Trotskyism seems better than Stalinism likely only because it never came to power. This is further compounded by the character of Goldstein in 1984, who shares similar elements with Trotsky, but may not exist or may be used as a tool by the state to further control the population.

  • The8thOS

    Do a video on Ray Bradbury!

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