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George Orwell: The original blogger

Posted by: | September 14, 2011 | No Comment |

You may recall a recent story about a UCLA student who decided to sneak his way into Libya to join the rebels in their fight for freedom. There, 21-year-old Chris Jeon learned how to fire a weapon for the first time before soon being told to leave by the rebels that once welcomed him due to a realization that he was useless; a stint that would have been scoffed at by literary legend George Orwell.

You remember George Orwell, don’t you? He taught you all about totalitarianism and communism in the eighth grade with “Animal Farm,” and introduced you to dystopian fiction with his most notable work, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” What you may not know is that in 1936, a young Orwell traveled to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

Photo Courtesy: Monsterspade, Flickr

The Worker’s Party of Marxist Unification welcomed the English political journalist with open arms, as he was there for the right cause.

“I’ve come to fight against fascism,” said Orwell as he stepped into the British Independent Labour Party‘s Spanish offices.

Orwell spent a year fighting the front lines alongside his Spanish comrades while keeping track of his accounts in a diary, like a true blogger would have done today. He fought in Barcelona, Madrid and various other cities throughout the country before being shot in the throat by a sniper.

After being treated at local hospitals and undergoing electrotherapy, he was deemed mentally unfit for service, and was eventually sent home to England. It was there that he wrote the result of his year of revolt, “Homage to Catalonia.

A personal account of his time as a soldier in the Spanish Civil War, “Homage to Catalonia,” expressed some of the surface physical encounters and some of the deeper emotional epiphanies Orwell experienced on the battlefield. Needless to say, it made for a great read at the time. I mean, he got shot in the throat and still wanted to fight. I would have bought that book the day it came out.

Maybe Jeon just needed to add some value to his trip. Perhaps if he blogged about his allegiance to the Libyan cause and wrote a book about it, he wouldn’t be looked at as merely a whimsical college student who thought it would be “sick” to fight with the Libyans. But alas, we can’t all be George Orwells.

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