ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING 1984
To Orwell Today,
re: A DAY IN ORWELL TODAY
Some time ago I wrote asking for a description of a typical day "in the trenches" at Orwell Today. Your answer to that question yielded some fascinating insights into where Orwell Today happens.
Just the other day I found myself wondering what special things go on at Orwell Today each June 25th, by way of observance of that very special day.
My internet friend Rick Seifert always dons an Orwell t-shirt, and devotes a special blog to Orwell's memory. I can't help but imagine that June 25th always heralds some very special doings at Orwell Today. Could you share some?
Yes, I recall our previous conversations about manual typewriters and our mutual love of all things Orwell, ie ORWELLIANLY TYPING MANUALLY & MEETING ORWELL THRU BOOKS & A DAY IN ORWELL TODAY & GOOD PHOTOS OF ORWELL
In thinking about what to reply to you about what goes on at ORWELL TODAY on Orwell's birthday, it dawned on me that I actually don't make as big a celebration out of it as I should.
What I've done each year so far is devote the top story on the Home Page to saying "Happy Birthday Orwell" (filling in the appropriate age) and then linking to an article or news story about him and then finishing off with a link to the story about his birth in Motihari, over a photo of baby Eric. For example, this was what this year's heading looked like:
I don't put any other stories on the website that day because nothing tops Orwell on June 25th.
Personally, on that day, I drink a nice cup of tea as a toast to Orwell while reading writings by him. Then I usually organize my Orwell books - many of which are often scattered about and not on their proper shelves in the bookcase:
As can be seen, a dedicated day is definitely in order for putting books in order.
It's great to hear that Rick Seifert wears an Orwell T-shirt on June 25th (and I'm going to wear mine too). It was while researching the answer to his question about Orwell's typewriter that I discovered it's the same kind as the one I have. See ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER MY GRANDFATHER'S & ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER A REMINGTON
Being reminded of that, and then re-reading your son's essays about writing his books on manual typewriters, inspired me to want to type on Orwell's typewriter and incorporate it into future birthday rituals. The truth be told, I haven't used it since I was fourteen years old back in 1964. Since it came into my possession, after my grandfather's death in 1987, I've only taken it out of the case one time - to snap the photo to show it was the same make as Orwell's.
So today I pulled it out from the corner of the office where it unobtrusively sits, took it out of the case, and set it on the desk. It took awhile to figure out how to release the hammer keys which were down and in locked position. But I went to the CLASSIC TYPEWRITERS REMINGTON PORTABLES page and found instructions there.
I inserted a sheet of paper, lined it up even at the edges, and figured out how to work the carriage return. The first word I typed was "orwell" and then, for a practice sentence, "2 plus 2 make 4". I didn't want to type anything frivolous for such an important event - a kind of channelling Orwell - so I went to the bookshelf and got a copy of "1984". Then I took out the practice paper and put in a sheet of high-bond ORWELL TODAY letterhead.
I decided that what I was going to do from now on - in memory of Orwell on his birthday - was each year type one full page on "his" typewriter, using as copy the opening sentences and paragraphs of one of his nine books - starting retroactively this year with NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR - then going backwards chronologically, in the order that he wrote them.
Scanned above is the first page of 1984 that I typed on Orwell's 106th birthday on June 25th, 2009. Next year -- June 25th, 2010 - it will be ANIMAL FARM and so on down to DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON (for which Blair became Orwell in 1933. See BIRTH OF GEORGE ORWELL NAME). Each year I'll lay the typed page on top of the typewriter when I pack it away in its case.
Godcidently, "Orwell's" typewriter is in excellent operational condition (typical of everything my grandfather owned) and it didn't take long to get back into the unique rhythm of pounding on a manual. I could even pick up speed without jamming the keys. That's the sign of a truly great typewriter.
The book standing beside me, as I type from "1984" - with a glass paperweight holding down the pages - is ORWELL: THE OBSERVER YEARS, a compilation of 100 articles and reviews Orwell wrote for that newspaper between 1942 and 1948. I love the coloured cover of Orwell typing on the very same typewriter as me.
Thanks for your question about what special doings go on at ORWELL TODAY on his birthday. It inspired me to add further rituals to the celebration, and I think the spirit of Orwell will be pleased.
All the best,
Jackie Jura, 2009
PS - While working on answering your email about Orwell's birthday I received a thrilling one about Orwell's birth place. See ORWELL STATUE IN MOTIHARI
To Orwell Today,
Your reply to my e-mailed question yielded a wonderful treat. Once again, I feel as though I've had a guided tour of ORWELL TODAY.
Your idea for typing the opening of Orwell's novels -- one per birthday -- is splendid, and I am looking forward to June 25th, already. Many thanks for taking the time to produce such a fascinating segment for your readers!
...continued at ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING ANIMAL FARM
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