First Drafts

Orwell in 1948 understood that despite the Axis defeat, the will to fascism had not gone away, that far from having seen its day it had perhaps not yet even come into its own - the corruption of spirit, the irresistible human addiction to power were already long in place, all well-known aspects of the Third Reich and Stalin's USSR, even the British Labour party - like first drafts of a terrible future. What could prevent the same thing from happening to Britain and the United States? Moral superiority? Good intentions? Clean living?

Thomas Pynchon, last seen in print circa 1997 with his Mason and Dixon, sufficiently famously reclusive a novelist to guest on The Simpsons, paperbag over head, as the archstereotype of himself, has written an introduction for a new edition of 1984, designed to coincide with the centenary of Orwell's birth. Against the stylistic pyrotechnics of his fiction it's strange to read such measured prose.