George Orwell: "Omission is the most powerful form of lie"

Quote possibly not from Orwell. See comments.
– –

“The omission is the most powerful form of lie,
and it is the duty of the historian to ensure that those lies
do not creep into the history books.”

– George Orwell, author of ‘1984’

7 thoughts on “George Orwell: "Omission is the most powerful form of lie"

  1. kim

    Thanks Jeff, but neither of these points to a primary source, and with so many falsely attributed quotations (i.e., without sourcing) out there, I am always checking.

  2. Mark Talmont

    Don’t have a source but I’ve seen this on elsewhere quoted in tandem with “Those who control the past control the future, and those who control the present control the past”.

  3. Yeah I can’t source that either. Its not a very controversial quote, though. These are:

    “One cannot really be Catholic & grown-up.”
    “Extracts from a Manuscript Notebook” (1949), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol. 4 (1968)

    (He didn’t think that much more of Protestants, to tell the truth, as is shown next…)

    “I have always thought there might be a lot of cash in starting a new religion.”

    The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 1: An Age Like This, 1920-1940 (1968), edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus Orwell, p. 304

    and of course, from Orwell’s “Why I Write” (which can be found at OrwellFoundation.org, full text):

    “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism… And the more one is conscious of one’s political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one’s aesthetic and intellectual integrity… When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

    …you got you hearing, George.
    “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism… And the more one is conscious of one’s political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one’s aesthetic and intellectual integrity… When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

    …you got you hearing, George.

    (full text at OrwellFoundation [dot] com [slash] Orwell [slash] why-i-write ) (no spaces)

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