A Rhetoric of Decency:
An Essay on Identification and Recursivity in George Orwell’s Writings on Spain
Theorists of writing have called for it “to be placed within the different practices that actualize the mental process” (Clark & Ivanic ̌93). In my presentation I will look at the writings of George Orwell to articulate a textual understanding of writing as placed within different practices that actualize the mental process. I will especially present an analysis of the term decency as occupying a central place in Orwell’s writings about Spain, shuttling between a concept descriptive naming the Spanish character enabling identification for his English audience in Homage to Catalonia to a criticalnormative on which the writer argues for a form of socialism in “Looking Back on the Spanish Civil War.” To make this argument I will look at Orwell’s two published writings on Spain in the context of literacy theory and writing studies scholarship, and situate his overall composition process in terms of the contextual information provided in the letters he wrote in connection to the two works. Subsequently, I will extrapolate my analysis of Orwell’s works to present the theory of literacy as “exquisite circumspection” (Ong) as a necessary corollary to the notion of “recursive thinking process” in writing in terms of a predisposition to continuously inquire and imaginatively translate ideas through the act of writing down based on context and newly emergent goals.
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