Someone is suggesting that a a statue of George Orwell be erected just outside the new BBC building.
On the face of it, this seems a splendid idea.
Orwell and the BBC - civility and decency, the qualities that any thinking and sensible person would endorse - together in one place.
What could be wrong with that?
It is true that for a writer of such a considerable reputation there is little in any formal and tangible recognition of George Orwell - there is, for example, no plaque at Westminster Abbey.
Yes, there is a prize in his name and a fine scholarly collected edition; yes, his books are on the shelves of homes and schools; and, yes, phrases and ideas from "Room 101" and "Big Brother" to "Newspeak" and "more equal than others" float freely in our elite and popular culture.
But there is nothing to go and actually see.
One suspects Orwell himself would have loathed the idea of a statue.
For although Orwell was serious about promoting his writing and his ideas, and was assertive in protecting his interests about payment and publication, he rarely promoted himself in any direct manner.
He was a modest and gentle man, and the notion of any personal ostentation would have riled him, as it would have done for many of his time and social background.
It was not the done thing.
Even his grave shows this lack of fuss.
Stuck in an Oxfordshire village, which he himself did not visit - the funeral was arranged by a friend - the gravestone's epitaph is simple as could be.
No mention of his famous pseudonym and no mention of "writer" - and certainly no crude tribute or awkward versifying - it just has his birth name and dates.
If you want to go and see something about Orwell, go and see his grave.
A statue would undoubtedly have smacked to Orwell - and it really should smack to us - of a cult of personality - the wrongful detachment of the person from their substance.
Indeed, a more appropriate physical monument to Orwell would be based on one of his essays, where he sought to depict the significance of things - a cup of tea, say, or a common toad.
The last thing the legacy of Orwell requires is a statue.
The intellectual and cultural significance of Orwell should not be some fixed monument, promoted by do-gooders to the approval of those in power.
What would be far better would be for people not only to read Nineteen Eighty-four and Animal Farm and the brilliant essays like Politics and the English Language - but to re-read and think about them so as to see if there is anything in there still of general application.
And if we are to have this statue of Orwell, why not have more?
"...the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shinning and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the statues that were erected everywhere. The black-mustachio'd face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one by the house front immediately opposite.
"GEORGE ORWELL IS WATCHING YOU, the inscription said..."
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