I don’t think teenagers reading literature need to see a world they know; I think they need to see a world they know isn’t bullshit.
Orwell was prescient in other ways: a paper called “Crisis? Whose Crisis? George Orwell and Liberal Guilt” points out that Orwell was fixated on what he deemed “one of the more embarrassing moments in twentieth-century liberalism: the failure of middle-class liberals to connect with the working class.” According to scholar Rob Breton, Orwell sought to “expose the intelligentsia’s self-congratulating assumption that they were harmoniously attuned to the lower classes, the masses.” Sounds…familiar
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf’s seminal novel, turned 91 today. The JSTOR blog has a great round-up of essays on the book.
We have similar stories all throughout history: the moment when a perception—whether a literal way of seeing or a figurative mode of thinking—is assaulted and fundamentally shifts, a non-reversible alteration, a displacement from one’s old ways. Western society has seen plenty of moments like these, moments where a perceptive or critical threshold has been crossed.
Matthew Willis for the JSTOR blog celebrates the 550th anniversary of the first recorded mention of Scotch whisky.