Sunday, November 27, 2011

MediaWeek (V4 N48): Orwell on Police Actions, Dickens and Economist Book Festival + More

Conor Friedersdorf writing in The Atlantic asks What Orwell Can Teach us About OWS and Police Brutality
In Burma, Orwell remembers, every British police officer was a target of constant ridicule. "When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter," he writes. "This happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves." The next passage captures what it is like to be a man trapped in a system you wouldn't have chosen and don't particularly like:
I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically - and secretly, of course - I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been Bogged with bamboos - all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt. But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East...

All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.
Perhaps you know the rest of the story. Orwell gets a call about a mad elephant stampeding through the village. It killed one man. Being the officer in charge, he is expected to do something.
I am sure Niall Ferguson could find a silver lining in there somewhere (Guardian)

An exhibition at the British library makes the claim the Dickens stole a ghost story from a rival (Guardian):
Exhibition tells how Charles Dickens was spooked by ghost tale doppelganger: Bicentennial show at British Library says rival accused Dickens of plagiarism but author said he was amazed by story similarities.

The Economist running a books festival in combination with their annual book of the year round-up. (Economist):
The process starts in mid-November when we e-mail all our reviewers, soliciting their advice. This year, for the first time, we also ran a competition among our readers on Facebook.
The rules are simple: to be included a book needs to have been published in English between January 1st and December 31st 2011.

A handful have already been selected to feature in The Economist’s first “Books of the Year” festival at London’s SouthBank Centre. Among these is “A History of the World in 100 Objectsby Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, which began as a radio programme early in 2010; a new edition of the book is out this month. Also appearing will be Edmund de Waal, who opens the festival with a new illustrated edition of his bestselling family memoir, “The Hare with Amber Eyes”.
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