Did you know that in Shakespeare’s time there was a sweet white wine called Bastard, and it’s mentioned in Henry IV Part One? Or that on days when he gave public readings, Dickens had two tablespoons of rum with fresh cream for breakfast, and a pint of champagne for tea? Or that George Eliot was the first person to refer to ‘pop music’ in a letter in 1862?
All this and more can be found at http://interestingliterature.com/. There are more scholarly articles but ‘Best Anecdotes Featuring Oscar Wilde’ and ‘Interesting Literary Facts about Halloween’ will do for me.
There is a line in 1984 that is more disturbing than the famous final one. It occurs in the appendix Principles of Newspeak, where the writer admits that the final adoption of the language would not take place until 2050 because of the need for the translation of classic and more utilitarian literature. He suggests that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence could merely be translated as ‘Crimethink.’ And then goes on: ‘Various writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Byron, Dickens, and some others were in the process of translation: when the task had been completed, their original writings…would be destroyed.’
To start the process I decided to try a few Newspeak versions of the first paragraphs of classics. See below, answers at the bottom.
- 13 clock, April. Citizen ungood enter Victory domestbuild
- All agree statelove doubleplusgood.
- Best time, plusbest time; Big Bruv era, Goldstein defeated; all productivity targets exceeded.
If you fancy having a go yourself enter below. By the way, this post was inspired by the Newspeak title of Nigel Mountford’s extraordinary account of a night of depression ‘Oldthinkers Unbellyfeel EngSoc.’ (http://bermondseylamb.wordpress.com/) Which is well worth a look. In the meantime, the answers are: 1984, Pride and Prejudice, and Tale of Two Cities.