Skip to main content

Orwell Day 2018

Lecture by Masha Gessen

Imagination and Democracy

Debate

In the framework of the Orwell Day, the journalist and activist Masha Gessen defends imagination as a necessary tool for reviving the ideal of democracy and countering the assaults of totalitarianism. This lecture coincides with the Spanish publication of her book El futuro es historia. Rusia y el regreso del totalitarismo (Turner, 2018 – published in English as The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, 2017).

Orwell concludes his 1946 essay “The Prevention of Literature” with the observation that “[…] imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity”. In Masha Gessen’s view, Orwell thus highlighted the fact that the writer—at least the prose writer—cannot work under a totalitarian regime. In the seventy years since Orwell wrote these words we have had ample occasion to learn about both totalitarianism and captivity. Orwell was obviously right. Masha Gessen sustains that the present situation is, in fact, worse than what Orwell described. Totalitarianism is not even a necessary condition for suppressing imagination. In her lecture, Gessen upholds the key role of imagination as our best defence against the dismantling of democracy, an ideal which we must constantly reassess and redefine.

With this lecture the CCCB is celebrating its sixth Orwell Day, a project launched with AMIGCE and the Catalan PEN Club with the aim of upholding the relevance of his legacy and the need to keep thinking critically in our democracies.

Presenters: Miquel Berga

Participants: Masha Gessen

This activity is part of Orwell Day 2018

Related contents

Masha Gessen. Imagination and Democracy

In the framework of the Orwell Day, the journalist and activist Masha Gessen defends imagination as a necessary tool for reviving the ideal of democracy and countering the assaults of totalitarianism. 

You might also be interested in

Lecture by Jason Stanley

How Fascim Works. The Politics of Us and Them

Llullian Rotations

Variations on Ramon Lllull's Ars Combinatoria

Organised by

Collaborators

With the support of