Professor Douglas Kerr of Hong Kong University points out more disturbing connections between the two in the real world now]. But people in the book trade in Hong Kong today face quite different hazards. What would Orwell have thought of the saga of the Hong Kong booksellers? We can be pretty sure, at least, that he would not have been surprised.
Lui Por was general manager of Mighty Current, Cheung Chi-ping its assistant general manager, and Gui Minhai one of the principal shareholders. In October , they started to disappear; four during travel to Thailand or southern mainland China but Lee a British citizen, also called Lee Bo in British press reports from Hong Kong itself. On 17th January, Gui who vanished from Pattaya appeared on state television in China, in tears, saying that he had had a crisis of conscience, and had turned himself in for breaking the conditions of a two-year suspended sentence he had received after a drunk-driving offence on the mainland in , in which a person was killed.
The following day, at last, Chinese authorities confirmed that Lee was detained on the mainland. In another letter, Lee asked the Hong Kong police to drop their investigation of his disappearance. Cheung, Lui, and Lam appeared on Phoenix TV at the end of January, to admit they had distributed unlicensed books on the mainland. No doubt there will be further developments in the case. It has attracted a good deal of attention worldwide, which China habitually rejects as unwarranted interference in its internal affairs.
The Hong Kong government, after making some ineffectual noises, fell silent. But it is not easy to maintain a faith that China respects the rule of law in Hong Kong, in the light of what seems to have happened to Lee and his associates.
Causeway Bay Books has closed down. Mighty Current publishing house seems to have been sold. In fairness it should be pointed out that Mighty Current was not exactly a purveyor of works of idealistic political theory.
They specialized in gossipy and often scurrilous books about celebrities, principally powerful figures in China. Still, readers of Orwell may feel that many of the features of this case ring a whole symphony of Orwellian bells. In conclusion, I would just draw attention to one. It has to do with truth. When Orwell came back from Barcelona in , he felt that both political forces and the press had lied so regularly, comprehensively, and shamelessly in the interests of propaganda, that it might never be possible for the truth about the Spanish War to be recovered.
Truth is a casualty in the affair of the Hong Kong booksellers too, though in a different way. In the case of the booksellers, however, there appears to be a further level of cynicism. A shoddy and ludicrous version of events is served up to the public. Do you believe it?
Of course not. Case closed. Please return to your homes quietly. As for poor Mr Lee, he wants us to know how well he has been treated and how civilized the mainland enforcement agencies are.
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Yes, he loves Big Brother. The article titled Orwell in Love shows how he may well have based the character, Rosemary, in his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying , on her. In George Orwell reviewed his career and wrote notes to his literary executor: two of his novels should never be republished. By Aspidistra had already sunk without trace: it had been published by Gollancz in April in an edition of 3, copies, although only a few more than 2, copies were ever sold see the illustration of the first edition.
Gollancz had had no reason to reprint it, Orwell had stopped Penguin issuing it in paperback, and his agent had been unable to place the book with US publishers. So why was Orwell so set against reprinting it?
One reason is that Aspidistra went through a difficult publication process, and Orwell was never happy with the end result. The reason for this was that the newly established publishing house of Gollancz had gone through some unpleasant legal proceedings in the early s, and they were very keen to avoid further risks of libel or defamation arising from their publications. Aspidistra was a minefield in this regard, as the story was filled with advertising slogans and product names, some of which were real, although most were made up by Orwell.
Even some of the made up slogans and products were thought too similar to real life products and slogans for comfort. Peter Davison has documented the changes in his notes to the Collected Works edition of Aspidistra , where using the Gollancz correspondence files and notes, he sought to recreate the original text as far as possible.
musings and short stories Manual
Much of the correspondence between Gollancz and Orwell on the textual changes took place whilst Orwell was in North West England undertaking the ground work for The Road to Wigan Pier in early Nevertheless he did supply another whole list of changes five days later in a letter sent on 24th February. Davison gives around 30 changes in the notes to the Collected Works edition, although several of them are repeated at various points in the text e.
It was not always possible, though, for Orwell to do this. The proof copy in question see illustration is probably from quite a late stage in the publication process, as some of the changes required of Orwell, and noted in his various letters responding to requested changes, had already been incorporated into it. Illustration of proof copy. Nevertheless there were some differences between the proof and the final Gollancz edition, representing last minute changes which had not previously been identified, and which were not included in the Collected Works edition.
The following examples in bold are the main extra changes which it has now been possible to restore as a result of examining the proof:. Collected Works Edition. The hotel where Gordon Comstock and Rosemary have their expensive meal:. Presumably somebody worked out that there actually was a Riverside Hotel which might not find the description in the novel particularly flattering. Flaxman sells lipstick called:. This is much funnier and why it was changed is. An advert for a particular type of sauce is mentioned early on in Aspidistra:. The paragraph of advertising slogans on page of the Collected Works edition page of the first edition had many re-writes and changes of order, and probably represents one of the main examples of the changes that were made.
Davison partly restored this text, but the proof version is still different, as the comparison between proof and Collected Works shows:. How a woman of thirty-two stole her young man from a girl of twenty. Silkyseam — the.
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Not me! Are you. Night Starvation etc. Silkyseam — the smooth — sliding bathroom tissue. Halitosis is ruining his career. Are you a Highbrow? Dandruff is the Reason. Hike all day on a Slab of Vitamalt! Of course the version published by Gollancz for this paragraph incorporated a number of changes which Orwell was forced to make on the fly, and it is quite different again as will be seen below:.
Prompt relief for feeble kidneys. Silkyseam — the smooth-sliding bathroom tissue. Asthma was choking her!
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