Helen Goggins: Negationism in Fiction

Negationism is defined as, “the denial of historic crimes.” Revisionism is not the same as negationism but the two have been linked because both deal with the altering perspectives of a given topic. The two forms of conveying history are different, because revisionism focuses on exploring and informing the public on a different perspective of an event. Revisionism provides a platform that could potentially alter a popularly accepted narrative. It creates a well-rounded understanding of a subject and helps the public decipher the truth within a given subject. Negationism is not based on the discovery of alternative interpretation of an event, instead it is the morphing of history to fit a certain narrative or external pressures.  Examples of negationism appears in world history, including the denial of holocaust, genocide, and war crimes. Negationism is not only seen in real events, it is also seen in literature, like George Orwell’s 1949 science fiction novel, Nineteen Eight-Four.

Orwell’s use of negationism appears throughout Nineteen Eight-Four due to the strong influence of Big Brother in the character’s daily life. When war breaks out between Oceania and Eurasia, the Oceania government uses its power to alter facts because it was able to control the information being shared with its citizens. Big Brother exerts a certain level of control over its subjects that removes any sort of freedom that comes with the truth. Without a concrete understand of what is real and what is a government creation the people of Oceania are left in the dark. The feeling of uncertainty stems from the use of negationism in Orwell’s work of fiction but it is prevalent in past and current societies.


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