As Nineteen Eighty-Four protagonist Winston Smith has admirers on the right, in the center, and on the left, the contributors similarly represent a wide range of political, literary, and moral viewpoints. The Cold War that has so often been linked to Orwell's novel ended with more of a whimper than a bang, but most of the issues of concern to him remain alive in some form today: censorship, scientific surveillance, power worship, the autonomy of art, the meaning of democracy, relations between men and women, and many others. The contributors bring a variety of insightful and contemporary perspectives to bear on these questions.
The profession was new, and with the joy of the innovator Lucian was never tired of inventing new genres. Romance, criticism, satire—he mastered them all. In Toxaris and The Ass he proves with what delicacy and restraint he could handle the story. His ill-omened apprenticeship to a sculptor gave him that taste and feeling for art which he turned to so admirable an account. He was, in fact, the first of the art-critics, and he pursued the craft with an easy unconsciousness of the heritage he bequeathed to the world. True, he is silent concerning the technical practice of the Greeks; true, he leaves us in profound ignorance of the art of Zeuxis, whose secrets he might have revealed, had he been less a man of letters. But he found in painting and sculpture an opportunity for elegance of phrase, and we would forgive a thousand shortcomings for such inspirations of beauty as the smile of Sosandra: to τὸ μειδίαμα σεμνὸν καὶ λεληθὸς. In literary criticism he was on surer ground, and here also he leaves the past behind. His knowledge of Greek poetry was profound; Homer he had by heart; and on every page he proves his sympathies by covert allusion or precise quotation. His treatise concerning the Writing of History preserves its force irresistible after seventeen centuries, nor has the wisdom of the ages impeached or modified this lucid argument. With a modest wit he compares himself to Diogenes, who, when he saw his fellow-citizens busied with the preparations of war, gathered his skirts about him and fell to rolling his tub up and down. So Lucian, unambitious of writing history, sheltered himself from "the waves and the smoke," and was content to provide others with the best of good counsel. Yet such is the irony of accident that, as Lucian's criticism has outlived the masterpieces of Zeuxis, so the historians have snatched an immortality from his censure; and let it be remembered for his glory that he used Thucydides as a scourge wherewith to beat impostors. But matters of so high import did not always engross his humour, and in The Illiterate Book-buyer he satirizes a fashion of the hour and of all time with a courage and brutality which tear the heart out of truth. How intimately does he realize his victim! And how familiar is this same victim in his modern shape!