I'm writing an essay about Winston's job at the Ministry of Truth, which is to change the records of history. Do you think this has ever happened in the real world? Has a society ever rewritten history to hide the truth? Can you give me some examples for my paper?
4 Answers | Add Yours
Most of Orwell's writing about the changing of history comes directly from the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Check out this page for direct evidence of photographic manipulation in order to erase certain people from history.
To come at the topic from a different angle, you could also include something about how the writing of history is often (perhaps inevitably?) biased because it's usually the story of the victors and the conquerors, rarely of the conquered. That's certainly true of the Native American "history" that was taught in the United States for years. Ironically, then, books like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee attempted to rewrite history to uncover the truth that had been hidden.
There are numerous groups who have had their histories distorted or ignored completely. Consider the feminist challenges to the traditional male canon of the last 40 or so years. For instance, because a few white men in a few whit universities say "it is so" does NOT make it so! Why are male exploits, like war, more important to understanding the "human condition" than, say, for example, family?
As the above post mentions, minorities have also had their histories expunged or ignored. As a hobby, I collect history text books. One edition I have, from the late 50s, has exactly one page on slavery in America. Winston's "Ministry of Truth" doesn't have to physically change history to alter it by omission.
As other editors have commented, Soviet Russia under Stalin is by no means the only example of "re-writing" history books. To take a completely different approach, you might want to think about how recently we have gone through a process of re-integrating the various voices of different groups that before have been suppressed. For example, a few years back the majority of English Literature courses mainly consisted of British or American white male classics, with perhaps a couple of women thrown in to be PC. Now, you will find a huge range of texts from different ethnic backgrounds, cultures and genders that capture some of these dissident voices that were excluded for so long.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes