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Eric Arthur Blair

Orwell's press card portrait, taken in 1933
Born Eric Arthur Blair
25 June 1903(1903-06-25)
Motihari, Bihar, British India
Died 21 January 1950 (aged 46)
Camden, London
Resting place Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire
Pen name George Orwell, John Freeman (Can Socialists Be Happy?)[1][2]
Occupation Novelist, political writer and journalist
Notable work(s) Homage to Catalonia (1938)
Animal Farm (1945)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
essays
Spouse(s) Eileen O'Shaughnessy, Sonia Brownell
Signature

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950),[3] better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense, revolutionary opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism.[4]

Considered perhaps the 20th century's best chronicler of English culture,[5] Orwell wrote literary criticism and poetry, as well as fiction and polemic journalism. He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and the satirical novella Animal Farm (1945). His Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and his numerous essays are also widely acclaimed. Orwell's influence on culture, popular and political, continues. Several of his neologisms, along with the term Orwellian, now a byword for any draconian or manipulative social phenomenon or concept inimical to a free society, have entered the vernacular.

Contents

Biography

Early life and education

Blair family home at Shiplake

Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihari, Bihar, Bengal Presidency, British India.[6] His great-grandfather Charles Blair had been a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset supported, as an absentee landlord, by a good income from plantations in Jamaica.[7] His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman.[8] Although the gentility was passed down the generations, the prosperity was not; Eric Blair described his family as "lower-upper-middle class".[9] His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Burma where her French father was involved in speculative ventures.[7] Eric had two sisters; Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, Ida Blair took him to England.[10]

In 1905, Blair's mother settled at Henley-on-Thames. Eric was brought up in the company of his mother and sisters, and apart from a brief visit he did not see his father again until 1912. His mother's diary for 1905 indicates a lively round of social activity and artistic interests. The family moved to Shiplake before World War I, and Eric became friendly with the Buddicom family, especially Jacintha Buddicom. When they first met, he was standing on his head in a field, and on being asked why he said, "You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up". Jacintha and Eric read and wrote poetry and dreamed of becoming famous writers. He told her that he might write a book in similar style to that of H. G. Wells's A Modern Utopia. During this period, he enjoyed shooting, fishing, and birdwatching with Jacintha’s brother and sister.[11]

At the age of six, Eric Blair attended the Anglican parish school in Henley-on-Thames, remaining until he was eight.[12] His mother wanted him to have a public school education, but his family was not wealthy enough to afford the fees, making it necessary for him to obtain a scholarship. Ida Blair's brother Charles Limouzin, who lived on the South Coast, recommended St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne, Sussex. The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win the scholarship, and made a private financial arrangement which allowed Blair's parents to pay only half the normal fees. Later, and with publication delayed until after his death, Orwell was to write Such, Such Were the Joys, an account of his unhappy time at the school. At St. Cyprian's, Blair first met Cyril Connolly, who would himself become a noted writer and who, as the editor of Horizon magazine, would publish many of Orwell's essays. While at the school Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard, the local newspaper,[13][14] came second to Connolly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school's external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton.

After a term at Wellington College, Blair transferred to Eton College, where he was a King's Scholar (1917–1921). His tutor was A. S. F. Gow, fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge who remained a source of advice later in his career. Blair was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley who spent a short interlude teaching at Eton, but outside the classroom there was no contact between them. Cyril Connolly followed Blair to Eton, but because they were in separate years they did not associate with each other. Blair's academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies, but during his time he worked with Roger Mynors to produce a college magazine and participated in the Eton Wall Game. His parents could not afford to send him to university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be able to obtain one. However Stephen Runciman, who was a close contemporary, noted that he had a romantic idea about the East[15] and, for whatever reason, it was decided that Blair should join the Indian Imperial Police. To do this, it was necessary to pass an entrance examination. His father had retired to Southwold, Suffolk by this time and Blair was enrolled at a "crammer" there called "Craighurst" where he brushed up on his classics, English and History. Blair passed the exam, coming seventh out of twenty-seven.[8]

Burma

Blair's grandmother lived at Moulmein, and with family connections in the area, his choice of posting was Burma. In October 1922 he sailed on board S.S. Herefordshire via the Suez Canal and Ceylon to join the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. A month later, he arrived at Rangoon and made the journey to Mandalay, the site of the police training school. After a short posting at Maymyo, Burma's principal hill station, he was posted to the frontier outpost of Myaungmya in the Irrawaddy Delta at the beginning of 1924.

British Club in Kathar (In Orwell's time it consisted of only the ground floor)

His imperial policeman's life gave him considerable responsibilities for a young man, while his contemporaries were still at university in England. When he was posted to Twante as a sub-divisional officer, he was responsible for the security of some 200,000 people. At the end of 1924 he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syriam, which was closer to Rangoon. In September 1925 he went to Insein, the home of the second largest jail in Burma. In Insein he had "long talks on every conceivable subject" with a journalist friend, Elisa Maria Langford-Rae (later the wife of Kazi Lhendup Dorjee), who noted his "sense of utter fairness in minutest details".[16]

In April 1926 he moved to Moulmein, where his grandmother lived. At the end of that year, he went to Katha, where he contracted Dengue fever in 1927. He was entitled to leave in England that year, and in view of his illness, was allowed to go home in July. While on leave in England in 1927, he reappraised his life and resigned from the Indian Imperial Police with the intention of becoming a writer. His Burma police experience yielded the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays "A Hanging" (1931) and "Shooting an Elephant" (1936).

London and Paris

In England, he settled back in the family home at Southwold, renewing acquaintance with local friends and attending an Old Etonian dinner. He visited his old tutor Gow at Cambridge for advice on becoming a writer,[17] and as a result he decided to move to London. Ruth Pitter, a family acquaintance, helped him find lodgings and by the end of 1927 he had moved into rooms in Portobello Road[18] (a blue plaque commemorates his residence there). Pitter took a vague interest in his writing as he set out to collect literary material on a social class as different from his own as were the natives of Burma.

Following the precedent of Jack London, whom he admired, he started his exploratory expeditions to the poorer parts of London. On his first outing he set out to Limehouse Causeway spending his first night in a common lodging house, possibly George Levy's 'kip'. For a while he "went native" in his own country, dressing like a tramp and making no concessions to middle class mores and expectations; he recorded his experiences of the low life for later use in "The Spike", his first published essay, and the latter half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

In the spring of 1928, he moved to Paris, where the comparatively low cost of living and bohemian lifestyle offered an attraction for many aspiring writers. His Aunt Nellie Limouzin also lived there and gave him social and, if necessary, financial support. He worked on novels, but only Burmese Days survives from that activity. More successful as a journalist, he published articles in Monde (not to be confused with Le Monde), G. K.'s Weekly and Le Progres Civique (founded by the left-wing coalition Le Cartel des Gauches).

He fell seriously ill in March 1929 and shortly afterwards had all his money stolen from the lodging house. Whether through necessity or simply to collect material, he undertook menial jobs like dishwashing in a fashionable hotel on the rue de Rivoli providing experiences to be used in Down and Out in Paris and London. In August 1929 he sent a copy of "The Spike" to New Adelphi magazine in London. This was owned by John Middleton Murry who had released editorial control to Max Plowman and Sir Richard Rees. Plowman accepted the work for publication.

Southwold

Southwold – North Parade

In December 1929, after a year and three quarters in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents' house in Southwold, which was to remain his base for the next five years. The family was well established in the local community, and his sister Avril was running a tea house in the town. He became acquainted with many local people including a local gym teacher, Brenda Salkield, the daughter of a clergyman. Although Salkield rejected his offer of marriage she was to remain a friend and regular correspondent about his work for many years. He also renewed friendships with older friends such as Dennis Collings, whose girlfriend Eleanor Jacques was also to play a part in his life.[8]

In the spring he had a short stay in Leeds with his sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey Dakin whose regard for Blair was as unappreciative then as when he knew him as a child. Blair was undertaking some review work for Adelphi and acting as a private tutor to a disabled child at Southwold. He followed this up by tutoring a family of three boys one of whom, Richard Peters, later became a distinguished academic.[19] He went painting and bathing on the beach, and there he met Mabel and Francis Fierz who were later to influence his career. Over the next year he visited them in London often meeting their friend Max Plowman. Other homes available to him were those of Ruth Pitter and Richard Rees. These acted as places for him to "change" for his sporadic tramping expeditions where one of his jobs was to do domestic work at a lodgings for half a crown a day.[20]

Meanwhile, Blair now contributed regularly to Adelphi, with "A Hanging" appearing in August 1931. In August and September 1931 his explorations extended to following the East End tradition of working in the Kent hop fields (an activity which his lead character in A Clergyman's Daughter also engages in). At the end of this, he ended up in the Tooley Street kip, but could not stand it for long and with a financial contribution from his parents moved to Windsor Street where he stayed until Christmas. "Hop Picking", by Eric Blair, appeared in in the October 1931 issue of New Statesman, where Cyril Connolly was on the staff. Mabel Fierz put him in contact with Leonard Moore who was to become his literary agent.

At this time Jonathan Cape rejected A Scullion's Diary, the first version of Down and Out. On the advice of Richard Rees he offered it to Faber & Faber, whose editorial director, T. S. Eliot, also rejected it. To conclude the year Blair attempted another exploratory venture of getting himself arrested so that he could spend Christmas in prison, but the relevant authorities did not cooperate and he returned home to Southwold after two days in a police cell.

Teaching

Blair then took a job teaching at the Hawthorne High School for Boys in Hayes, West London. This was a small school that provided private schooling for local tradesmen and shopkeepers and comprised only 20 boys and one other master.[21] While at the school he became friendly with the local curate and became involved with the local church. Mabel Fierz had pursued matters with Moore, and at the end of June 1932, Moore told Blair that Victor Gollancz was prepared to publish A Scullion's Diary for a £40 advance, for his recently founded publishing house, Victor Gollancz Ltd, which was an outlet for radical and socialist works.

At the end of the school summer term in 1932 Blair returned to Southwold, where his parents had been able to buy their own home as a result of a legacy. Blair and his sister Avril spent the summer holidays making the house habitable while he also worked on Burmese Days.[22] He was also spending time with Eleanor Jacques but her attachment to Dennis Collings remained an obstacle to his hopes of a more serious relationship.[23]

"Clink", an essay describing his failed attempt to get sent to prison, appeared in the August 1932 number of Adelphi. He returned to teaching at Hayes and prepared for the publication of his work now known as Down and Out in Paris and London which he wished to publish under an assumed name. In a letter to Moore (dated 15 November 1932) he left the choice of pseudonym to him and to Gollancz. Four days later, he wrote to Moore, suggesting the pseudonyms P. S. Burton (a name he used when tramping), Kenneth Miles, George Orwell, and H. Lewis Allways.[24] He finally adopted the nom de plume George Orwell because, as he told Eleanor Jacques, "It is a good round English name." Down and Out in Paris and London was published on 9 January 1933 but Blair was back at the school at Hayes. He had little free time and was still working on Burmese Days. Down and Out was successful and it was published by Harper and Brothers in New York.

In the summer Blair finished at Hawthornes to take up a teaching job at Frays College, at Uxbridge, West London. This was a much larger establishment with 200 pupils and a full complement of staff. He acquired a motorcycle and took trips through the surrounding countryside. On one of these expeditions he became soaked and caught a chill which developed into pneumonia. He was taken to Uxbridge Cottage Hospital where for a time his life was believed to be in danger. When he was discharged in January 1934, he returned to Southwold to convalesce and, supported by his parents, never returned to teaching.

He was disappointed when Gollancz turned down Burmese Days, mainly on the grounds of potential libel actions but Harpers were prepared to publish it in the United States. Meanwhile back at home Blair started work on the novel A Clergyman's Daughter drawing upon his life as a teacher and on life in Southwold. Eleanor Jacques was now married and had gone to Singapore and Brenda Salkield had left for Ireland, so Blair was relatively lonely in Southwold — pottering on the allotments, walking alone and spending time with his father. Eventually in October, after sending A Clergyman's Daughter to Moore, he left for London to take a job that had been found for him by his Aunt Nellie Limouzin.

Hampstead

One of Orwell's Hampstead homes at 77 Parliament Hill

This job was as a part-time assistant in "Booklover's Corner", a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope who were friends of Nellie Limouzin in the Esperanto movement. The Westropes had an easy-going outlook and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street. He was job sharing with Jon Kimche who also lived with the Westropes. Blair worked at the shop in the afternoons, having the mornings free to write and the evenings to socialise. These experiences provided background for the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). As well as the various guests of the Westropes, he was able to enjoy the company of Richard Rees and the Adelphi writers and Mabel Fierz. The Westropes and Kimche were members of the Independent Labour Party although at this time Blair was not seriously politically aligned. He was writing for the Adelphi and dealing with pre-publication issues with A Clergymans Daughter and Burmese Days.

At the beginning of 1935 he had to move out of Warwick Mansions, and Mabel Fierz found him a flat in Parliament Hill. A Clergyman's Daughter was published on the 11 March 1935. In the spring of 1935 Blair met his future wife Eileen O'Shaughnessy when his landlady, who was studying at the University of London, invited some of her fellow students. Around this time, Blair had started to write reviews for the New English Weekly.

In July, Burmese Days was published and following Connolly's review of it in the New Statesman, the two re-established contact. In August Blair moved into a flat in Kentish Town, which he shared with Michael Sayer and Rayner Heppenstall. He was working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and also tried to write a serial for the News Chronicle, which was an unsuccessful venture. By October 1935 his flat-mates had moved out, and he was struggling to pay the rent on his own.

The Road to Wigan Pier

At this time, Victor Gollancz suggested Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England.[25] Two years earlier J. B. Priestley had written of England north of the Trent and this had stimulated an interest in reportage. Furthermore the depression had introduced a number of working-class writers from the North of England to the reading public.

On 31 January 1936, Orwell set out by public transport and on foot via Coventry, Stafford, the Potteries and Macclesfield, reaching Manchester. Arriving after the banks had closed, he had to stay in a common lodging house. Next day he picked up a list of contact addresses sent by Richard Rees. One of these, trade union official Frank Meade, suggested Wigan, where Orwell spent February staying in dirty lodgings over a tripe shop. At Wigan, he gained entry to many houses to see how people lived, took systematic notes of housing conditions and wages earned, went down a coal mine, and spent days at the local public library consulting public health records and reports on working conditions in mines.

During this time he was distracted by dealing with libel and stylistic issues relating to Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He made a quick visit to Liverpool and spent March in South Yorkshire, spending time in Sheffield and Barnsley. As well as visiting mines and observing social conditions, he attended meetings of the Communist Party and of Oswald Mosley where he saw the tactics of the Blackshirts. He punctuated his stay with visits to his sister at Headingley, during which he visited the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth.

His investigations gave rise to The Road to Wigan Pier, published by Gollancz for the Left Book Club in 1937. The first half of this work documents his social investigations of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It begins with an evocative description of working life in the coal mines. The second half is a long essay of his upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, which includes criticism of some of the groups on the left. Gollancz feared the second half would offend readers and inserted a mollifying preface to the book while Orwell was in Spain.

Orwell needed somewhere where he could concentrate on writing his book, and once again help was provided by Aunt Nellie who was living in a cottage at Wallington, Hertfordshire. It was a very small cottage called the "Stores" with almost no modern facilities in a tiny village. Orwell took over the tenancy and had moved in by 2 April 1936. He started work on the book by the end of April, and as well as writing, he spent hours working on the garden and investigated the possibility of reopening the Stores as a village shop.

Orwell married Eileen O'Shaughnessy on 9 June 1936. Shortly afterwards, the political crisis began in Spain and Orwell followed developments there closely. At the end of the year, concerned by Francisco Franco's Falangist uprising, Orwell decided to go to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Under the erroneous impression that he needed papers to cross the frontier, on John Strachey's recommendation Orwell applied unsuccessfully to Harry Pollitt, leader of the British Communist Party, who suggested joining the International Brigade and advised him to get safe passage from the Spanish Embassy in Paris.[26] Not wishing to commit himself until he'd seen the situation in situ, Orwell instead used his ILP contacts to get a letter of introduction to John McNair in Barcelona.

The Spanish Civil War and Catalonia

Plaça De George Orwell, Barcelona Spain.

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December, dining with Henry Miller in Paris on the way. A few days later at Barcelona, he met John McNair of the ILP Office who quoted him: "I've come to fight against Fascism".[27] Orwell stepped into a complex political situation in Catalonia. The Republican government was supported by a number of factions with conflicting aims, including the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM — Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista), the anarcho-syndicalist CNT and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (a wing of the Spanish Communist Party, which was backed by Soviet arms and aid). The ILP was linked to the POUM and so Orwell joined the POUM.

After a time at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona he was sent to the relatively quiet Aragon Front under Georges Kopp. By January 1937 he was at Alcubierre 1500 feet above sea level in the depth of winter. There was very little military action, and the lack of equipment and other deprivations made it uncomfortable. Orwell, with his Cadet Corps and police training was quickly made a corporal. On the arrival of a British ILP Contingent about three weeks later, Orwell and the other English militiaman, Williams, were sent with them to Monte Oscuro. The newly-arrived ILP contingent included Bob Smillie, Bob Edwards, Stafford Cottman and Jack Branthwaite. The unit was then sent on to Huesca.

Meanwhile, back in England, Eileen had been handling the issues relating to the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier before setting out for Spain herself, leaving Aunt Nellie Limouzin to look after The Stores. Eileen volunteered for a post in John McNair's office and with the help of Georges Kopp paid visits to her husband, bringing him English tea, chocolate and cigars.[28] Orwell had to spend some days in hospital with a poisoned hand and had most of his possessions stolen by the staff. He returned to the front and saw some action in night attack on the Nationalist trenches where he chased an enemy soldier with a bayonet and bombed an enemy rifle position.

In April, Orwell returned to Barcelona where he applied to join the International Brigades to become involved in fighting closer to Madrid. However this was the time of Barcelona May Days and Orwell was caught up in the factional fighting. He spent much of the time on a roof, with a stack of novels, but encountered Jon Kimche from his Hampstead days during the stay. Orwell was affected dramatically when the POUM were outed for their collaboration with the Nationalists. Instead of joining the International Brigades as he had intended, he decided to return to the Aragon Front. Once the May fighting was over, he was approached by a Communist friend who asked if he still intended transferring to the International Brigades. Orwell expressed surprise that they should still want him, because according to the Communist press he was a fascist.[29]

After his return to the front, a sniper's bullet caught him in the throat. Orwell was considerably taller than the Spanish fighters[30] and had been warned against standing against the trench parapet. Unable to speak, and with blood pouring from his mouth, Orwell was stretchered to Siétamo, loaded on an ambulance and after a bumpy journey via Barbastro arrived at the hospital at Lleida. He recovered sufficiently to get up and on the 27 May 1937 was sent on to Tarragona and two days later to a POUM sanatorium in the suburbs of Barcelona. The bullet had missed his main artery by the barest margin and his voice was barely audible. He received electrotherapy treatment and was declared medically unfit for service.

By the middle of June the political situation in Barcelona had deteriorated and the POUM — seen by the pro-Soviet Communists as a Trotskyist organisation — was outlawed and under attack. Members, including Kopp, were arrested and others were in hiding. Orwell and his wife were under threat and had to lay low,[31] although they broke cover to try to help Kopp.

Finally with their passports in order, they escaped from Spain by train, diverting to Banyuls-sur-Mer for a short stay before returning to England. Orwell's experiences in the Spanish Civil War gave rise to Homage to Catalonia (1938).

Rest and recuperation

Orwell returned to England in June 1937, and stayed at the O'Shaughnessy home at Greenwich. He found his views on the Spanish Civil War out of favour. Kingsley Martin rejected two of his works and Gollancz was equally cautious. At the same time, the communist Daily Worker was running an attack on The Road to Wigan Pier, misquoting Orwell as saying "the working classes smell"; a letter to Gollancz from Orwell threatening libel action brought a stop to this. Orwell was also able to find a more sympathetic publisher for his views in Frederic Warburg of Secker & Warburg. Orwell returned to Wallington, which he found in disarray after his absence. He acquired goats, a rooster he called "Henry Ford", and a poodle he called "Marx" and settled down to animal husbandry and writing Homage to Catalonia.

There were thoughts of going to India to work on a local newspaper there, but by March 1938 Orwell's health had deteriorated. He was admitted to a sanitorium at Aylesford, Kent to which his brother-in-law Laurence O'Shaughnessy was attached. He was thought initially to be suffering from tuberculosis and stayed in the sanitorium until September. A stream of visitors came to see him including Common, Heppenstall, Plowman and Cyril Connolly. Connolly brought with him Stephen Spender, a cause of some embarrassment as Orwell had referred to Spender as a "pansy friend" some time earlier. Homage to Catalonia was published by Secker & Warburg and was a commercial flop. In the latter part of his stay at the clinic Orwell was able to go for walks in the countryside and study nature.

The novelist L.H. Myers secretly funded a trip to French Morocco for half a year for Orwell to avoid the English winter and recover his health. The Orwells set out in September 1938 via Gibraltar and Tangier to avoid Spanish Morocco and arrived at Marrakech. They rented a villa on the road to Casablanca and during that time Orwell wrote Coming Up for Air. They arrived back in England on 30 March 1939 and Coming Up for Air was published in June. Time was spent between Wallington and Southwold working on Orwell's Dickens essay and it was in July 1939 that Orwell's father, Richard Blair, died.

World War II and Animal Farm

On the outbreak of World War II, Orwell's wife Eileen started work in the Censorship Department in London, staying during the week with her family in Greenwich. Orwell also submitted his name to the Central Register for war effort but nothing transpired. He returned to Wallington, and in the autumn of 1939 he wrote essays for Inside the Whale. For the next year he was occupied writing reviews for plays, films and books for The Listener, Time and Tide and New Adelphi. At the beginning of 1940, the first edition of Connolly's Horizon appeared, and this provided a new outlet for Orwell's work as well as new literary contacts. In May the Orwells took lease of a flat in London at Dorset Chambers, Chagford Street, Marylebone. It was the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and the death in France of Eileen's brother Lawrence caused her considerable grief and long-term depression.

Orwell was declared "Unfit for any kind of military service" by the Medical Board in June, but soon afterwards found an opportunity to become involved in war activities by joining the Home Guard. He shared Tom Wintringham's socialist vision for the Home Guard as a revolutionary People's Militia. Sergeant Orwell managed to recruit Frederic Warburg to his unit. During the Battle of Britain he used to spend weekends with Warburg and his new friend Zionist Tosco Fyvel at Twyford, Berkshire. At Wallington he worked on "England Your England" and in London wrote reviews for various periodicals. Visiting Eileen's family in Greenwich brought him face-to-face with the effects of the blitz on East London.

Early in 1941 he started writing for the American Partisan Review and contributed to Gollancz' anthology The Betrayal of the Left, written in the light of the Hitler-Stalin pact. He also applied unsuccessfully for a job at the Air Ministry. In the Home Guard his mishandling of a mortar put two of his unit in hospital. Meanwhile he was still writing reviews of books and plays and at this time met the novelist Anthony Powell. He also took part in a few radio broadcasts for the Eastern Service of the BBC. In March the Orwells moved to St John's Wood in a 7th floor flat at Langford Court, while at Wallington Orwell was "digging for victory" by planting potatoes.

In August 1941, Orwell finally obtained "war work" when he was taken on full time by the BBC's Eastern Service. He supervised cultural broadcasts to India in the context of propaganda from Nazi Germany designed to undermine Imperial links. This was Orwell's first experience of the rigid conformity of life in an office. However it gave him an opportunity to create cultural programmes with contributions from T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, E. M. Forster, Mulk Raj Anand, and William Empson among others.

At the end of August he had a dinner with H. G. Wells which degenerated into a row because Wells had taken offence at observations Orwell made about him in a Horizon article. In October Orwell had a bout of bronchitis and the illness recurred frequently. David Astor was looking for a provocative contributor for The Observer and invited Orwell to write for him — the first article appearing in March 1942. In spring of 1942 Eileen changed jobs to work at the Ministry of Food and Orwell's mother and sister Avril took war work in London and came to stay with them. In the summer, they all moved to a basement at Mortimer Crescent in Kilburn.

At the BBC, Orwell introduced Voice, a literary programme for his Indian broadcasts, and by now was leading an active social life with literary friends, particularly on the political left. Late in 1942, he started writing for the left-wing weekly Tribune directed by Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan and George Strauss. In March 1943 Orwell's mother died and around the same time he told Moore he was starting work on a new book, which would turn out to be Animal Farm.

In September 1943, Orwell resigned from the BBC post that he had occupied for two years. His resignation followed a report confirming his fears that few Indians listened to the broadcasts,[32] but he was also keen to concentrate on writing Animal Farm. At this time he was also discharged from the Home Guard.

In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where his assistant was his old friend Jon Kimche. On 24 December 1943, the Tribune published, under the authorship of "John Freeman"—possibly in reference to the British politician—the short essay "Can Socialists Be Happy?", which has since been broadly attributed to Orwell; see Bibliography of George Orwell. Orwell was on staff until early 1945, writing over 80 book reviews[33] as well as the regular column "As I Please". He was still writing reviews for other magazines, and becoming a respected pundit among left-wing circles but also close friends with people on the right like Powell, Astor and Malcolm Muggeridge. By April 1944 Animal Farm was ready for publication. Gollancz refused to publish it, considering it an attack on the Soviet regime which was a crucial ally in the war. A similar fate was met from other publishers (including T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber) until Jonathan Cape agreed to take it.

In May the Orwells had the opportunity to adopt a child, thanks to the contacts of Eileen's sister Gwen O'Shaughnassy, then a doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne. In June a V-1 flying bomb landed on Mortimer Crescent and the Orwells had to find somewhere else to live. Orwell had to scrabble around in the rubble for his collection of books, which he had finally managed to transfer from Wallington, and carting them away in a wheelbarrow.

Another bombshell was Cape's withdrawal of support of Animal Farm. The decision is believed to be due to the influence of Peter Smollett, who worked at the Ministry of Information and was later disclosed to be a Soviet agent.[34]

The Orwells spent some time in the North East dealing with matters in the adoption of a boy whom they named Richard Horatio. In October 1944 they had set up home in Islington in a flat on the 7th floor of a block. Baby Richard joined them there, and Eileen gave up work to look after her family. Secker and Warburg had agreed to publish Animal Farm, planned for the following March, although it did not appear in print until August 1945. By February 1945 David Astor had invited Orwell to become a war correspondent for the Observer. Orwell had been looking for the opportunity throughout the war, but his failed medical reports prevented him from being allowed anywhere near action. He went to Paris after the liberation of France and to Cologne once it had been occupied.

It was while he was there that Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945. She had not given Orwell much notice about this operation because of worries about the cost and because she expected to make a speedy recovery. Orwell returned home for a while and then went back to Europe. He returned finally to London to cover the 1945 UK General Election at the beginning of July. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, and a year later in the U.S., on 26 August 1946.

Jura and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Animal Farm struck a particular resonance in the post-war climate and its worldwide success made Orwell a sought-after figure.

For the next four years Orwell mixed journalistic work — mainly for the Tribune, the Observer and the Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many small-circulation political and literary magazines — with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.

In the year following Eileen's death he published around 130 articles and was active in various political lobbying campaigns. He employed a housekeeper, Susan Watson, to look after his adopted son at the Islington flat, which visitors now described as "bleak". In September he spent a fortnight on the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides and saw it as a place to escape from the hassle of London literary life. David Astor was instrumental in arranging a place for Orwell at Jura. Astor's family owned Scottish estates in the area and a fellow Old Etonian Robert Fletcher had a property on the island. During the winter of 1945 to 1946 Orwell made several hopeless and unwelcome marriage proposals to younger women, including Celia Kirwan (who was later to become Arthur Koestler's sister-in-law), Ann Popham who happened to live in the same block of flats and Sonia Brownell, one of Connolly's coterie at the Horizon office. Orwell suffered a tubercular haemorrhage in February 1946 but disguised his illness. In 1945 or early 1946, while still living at Canonbury Square, Orwell wrote an article on "British Cookery", complete with recipes, commissioned by the British Council. Given the post-war shortages, both parties agreed not to publish it.[35] His sister Marjorie died of kidney disease in May and shortly after, on 22 May 1946, Orwell set off to live at Jura.

Barnhill[36] was an abandoned farmhouse with outbuildings near the northern end of the island, situated at the end of a five-mile (8 km), heavily rutted track from Ardlussa, where the owners lived. Conditions at the farmhouse were primitive but the natural history and the challenge of improving the place appealed to Orwell. His sister Avril accompanied him there and young novelist Paul Potts made up the party. In July Susan Watson arrived with his son Richard. Tensions developed and Potts departed after one of his manuscripts was used to light the fire. Orwell meanwhile set to work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later Susan Watson's boyfriend David Holbrook arrived. A fan of Orwell since schooldays, he found the reality very different, with Orwell hostile and disagreeable probably because of Holbrook's membership of the Communist Party.[37] Susan Watson could no longer stand being with Avril and she and her boyfriend left.

Orwell returned to London in late 1946 and picked up his literary journalism again. Now a well-known writer, he was swamped with work. Apart from a visit to Jura in the new year he stayed in London for one of the coldest British winters on record and with such a national shortage of fuel that he burnt his furniture and his child's toys. The heavy smog in the days before the Clean Air Act 1956 did little to help his health about which he was reticent, keeping clear of medical attention. Meanwhile he had to cope with rival claims of publishers Gollancz and Warburg for publishing rights. About this time he co-edited a collection titled British Pamphleteers with Reginald Reynolds. In April 1947 he left London for good, ending the leases on the Islington flat and Wallington cottage. Back on Jura in gales and rainstorms he struggled to get on with Nineteen Eighty-Four but through the summer and autumn made good progress. During that time his sister's family visited, and Orwell led a disastrous boating expedition which nearly led to loss of life and a soaking which was not good for his health. In December a chest specialist was summoned from Glasgow who pronounced Orwell seriously ill and a week before Christmas 1947 he was in Hairmyres hospital in East Kilbride, then a small village in the countryside, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Tuberculosis was diagnosed and the request for permission to import streptomycin to treat Orwell went as far as Aneurin Bevan, now Minister of Health. By the end of July 1948 Orwell was able to return to Jura and by December he had finished the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In January 1949, in a very weak condition, he set off for a sanatorium in Gloucestershire, escorted by Richard Rees.

The sanatorium at Cranham consisted of a series of small wooden chalets or huts in a remote part of the Cotswolds near Stroud. Visitors were shocked by Orwell's appearance and concerned by the short-comings and ineffectiveness of the treatment. Friends were worried about his finances, but by now he was comparatively well-off and making arrangements with his accountants to reduce his tax bill. He was writing to many of his friends, including Jacintha Buddicom, who had "rediscovered" him, and in March 1949, was visited by Celia Kirwan. Kirwan had just started working for a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, set up by the Labour government to publish anti-communist propaganda, and Orwell gave her a list of people he considered to be unsuitable as IRD authors because of their pro-communist leanings. Orwell's list, not published until 2003, consisted mainly of writers but also included actors and Labour MPs.[34][38] Orwell received more streptomycin treatment and improved slightly. In June 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim.

Final months and death

Orwell courted Sonia Brownell a second time during the summer, and they announced their marriage in September, shortly before he was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell's affairs and attended diligently in hospital causing concern to some old friends like Muggeridge. The wedding took place in the hospital room on 13 October 1949,[39] with David Astor as best man. Orwell was in decline and visited by an assortment of visitors including Muggeridge, Connolly, Lucian Freud, Stephen Spender, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Potts, Anthony Powell and his Eton tutor Anthony Gow.[8] Plans to go to the Swiss Alps were mooted; Orwell's health was in decline again by Christmas. Early on the morning of 21 January 1950, an artery burst in his lungs, killing him at age 46.[40]

George Orwell's grave

Orwell had requested to be buried in accordance with the Anglican rite in the graveyard of the closest church to wherever he happened to die. The graveyards in central London had no space, and fearing that he might have to be cremated, against his wishes, his widow appealed to his friends to see if any of them knew of a church with space in its graveyard. David Astor lived in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire and negotiated with the vicar for Orwell to be interred in All Saints' Churchyard there, although he had no connection with the village.[41] His gravestone bore the simple epitaph: "Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born 25 June 1903, died 21 January 1950"; no mention is made on the gravestone of his more famous pen-name.

Orwell's son, Richard Blair, was raised by an aunt after his father's death. He maintains a low public profile, though he has occasionally given interviews about the few memories he has of his father. Richard Blair worked for many years as an agricultural agent for the British government.

Literary career

During most of his career, Orwell was best known for his journalism, in essays, reviews, columns in newspapers and magazines and in his books of reportage: Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a period of poverty in these cities), The Road to Wigan Pier (describing the living conditions of the poor in northern England, and the class divide generally) and Homage to Catalonia. According to Irving Howe, Orwell was "the best English essayist since Hazlitt, perhaps since Dr Johnson."[42]

Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The former is often thought to reflect developments in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution; the latter, life under totalitarian rule. Nineteen Eighty-Four is often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; both are powerful dystopian novels warning of a future world where the state exerts complete control. In 1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 were honored with the Prometheus Award for their contributions to dystopian literature.

Coming Up for Air, his last novel before World War II is the most English of his novels; alarums of war mingle with images of idyllic Thames-side Edwardian childhood of protagonist George Bowling. The novel is pessimistic; industrialism and capitalism have killed the best of Old England, and there were great, new external threats. In homely terms, Bowling posits the totalitarian hypotheses of Borkenau, Orwell, Silone and Koestler: "Old Hitler's something different. So's Joe Stalin. They aren't like these chaps in the old days who crucified people and chopped their heads off and so forth, just for the fun of it ... They're something quite new — something that's never been heard of before".

Literary influences

In an autobiographical piece that Orwell sent to the editors of Twentieth Century Authors in 1940, he wrote: "The writers I care about most and never grow tired of are: Shakespeare, Swift, Fielding, Dickens, Charles Reade, Flaubert and, among modern writers, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. But I believe the modern writer who has influenced me most is Somerset Maugham, whom I admire immensely for his power of telling a story straightforwardly and without frills." Elsewhere, Orwell strongly praised the works of Jack London, especially his book The Road. Orwell's investigation of poverty in The Road to Wigan Pier strongly resembles that of Jack London's The People of the Abyss, in which the American journalist disguises himself as an out-of-work sailor in order to investigate the lives of the poor in London. In his essay "Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver's Travels" (1946) Orwell wrote: "If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver's Travels among them."

Other writers admired by Orwell included: Ralph Waldo Emerson, G. K. Chesterton, George Gissing, Graham Greene, Herman Melville, Henry Miller, Tobias Smollett, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Yevgeny Zamyatin.[43] He was both an admirer and a critic of Rudyard Kipling,[44][45] praising Kipling as a gifted writer and a "good bad poet" whose work is "spurious" and "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting," but undeniably seductive and able to speak to certain aspects of reality more effectively than more enlightened authors.[46]

Orwell as literary critic

Throughout his life Orwell continually supported himself as a book reviewer, writing works so long and sophisticated they have had an influence on literary criticism. He wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens,

When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens's photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry — in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.

George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterised Orwell as much as his subject.[47]

Reactions to Orwell's works

Koestler mentioned Orwell's "uncompromising intellectual honesty [which] made him appear almost inhuman at times."[48] Ben Wattenberg stated: "Orwell’s writing pierced intellectual hypocrisy wherever he found it."[49] According to historian Piers Brendon, "Orwell was the saint of common decency who would in earlier days, said his BBC boss Rushbrook Williams, 'have been either canonised – or burnt at the stake'.[50] However, Raymond Williams in Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review describes Orwell as a "successful impersonation of a plain man who bumps into experience in an unmediated way and tells the truth about it."[51] Christopher Norris declared that Orwell's "homespun empiricist outlook – his assumption that the truth was just there to be told in a straightforward common-sense way – now seems not merely naive but culpably self-deluding".[52]

Orwell's work has taken a prominent place in the school literature curriculum in England,[53] with Animal Farm a regular examination topic at the end of secondary education (GCSE), and Nineteen Eighty-Four a topic for subsequent examinations below university level (A Levels). Alan Brown noted that this brings to the forefront questions about the political content of teaching practices. Study aids, in particular with potted biographies, might be seen to help propagate the Orwell myth so that as an embodiment of human values he is presented as a "trustworthy guide", while examination questions sometimes suggest a "right ways of answering" in line with the myth.[54]

Historian John Rodden stated: "John Podhoretz did claim that if Orwell were alive today, he’d be standing with the neo-conservatives and against the Left. And the question arises, to what extent can you even begin to predict the political positions of somebody who’s been dead three decades and more by that time?"[49]

In Orwell's Victory, Christopher Hitchens argues, "In answer to the accusation of inconsistency Orwell as a writer was forever taking his own temperature. In other words, here was someone who never stopped testing and adjusting his intelligence".[55]

John Rodden points out the "undeniable conservative features in the Orwell physiognomy" and remarks on how "to some extent Orwell facilitated the kinds of uses and abuses by the Right that his name has been put to. In other ways there has been the politics of selective quotation."[49] Rodden refers to the essay "Why I Write", in which Orwell refers to the Spanish Civil War as being his "watershed political experience", saying "The Spanish War and other events in 1936-37, turned the scale. Thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism as I understand it." (emphasis in original)[49] Rodden goes on to explain how, during the McCarthy era, the introduction to the Signet edition of Animal Farm, which sold more 20 million copies, makes use of "the politics of ellipsis":

If the book itself, Animal Farm, had left any doubt of the matter, Orwell dispelled it in his essay Why I Write: 'Every line of serious work that I’ve written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against Totalitarianism... dot, dot, dot, dot,.' "For Democratic Socialism" is vaporized, just like Winston Smith did it at the Ministry of Truth, and that’s very much what happened beginning of the McCarthy era and just continued, Orwell being selectively quoted.[49]

T.R. Fyvel wrote about Orwell: "His crucial experience ... was his struggle to turn himself into a writer, one which led through long periods of poverty, failure and humiliation, and about which he has written almost nothing directly. The sweat and agony was less in the slum-life than in the effort to turn the experience into literature."[56][57]

In 1981, a Baptist minister in Jackson County, Florida challenged the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four's suitability as proper reading for young Americans, arguing it contained pro-Communist, anti-Semitic, and sexually explicit material.[58]

Influence on language and writing

In his essay Politics and the English Language (1946), Orwell wrote about the importance of honest and clear language and said that vague writing can be used as a powerful tool of political manipulation. In Nineteen Eighty-Four he described how the state controlled thought by controlling language, making certain ideas literally unthinkable. The adjective Orwellian refers to the frightening world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the state controls thought and misinformation is widespread. Several words and phrases from Nineteen Eighty-Four have entered popular language. Newspeak is a simplified and obfuscatory language designed to make independent thought impossible. Doublethink means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The Thought Police are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. Prolefeed is homogenized, manufactured superficial literature, film and music, used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. Big Brother is a supreme dictator who watches everyone.

From Orwell's novel Animal Farm comes the sentence, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others", describing theoretical equality in a grossly unequal society. Orwell may have been the first to use the term cold war, in his essay, "You and the Atomic Bomb", published in Tribune, 19 October 1945. He wrote: "We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications;— this is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of 'cold war' with its neighbours."[59]

In "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell provides six rules for writers:[60]

  • "Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print".
  • "Never use a long word where a short one will do".
  • "If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out".
  • "Never use the passive voice where you can use the active".
  • "Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent".
  • "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous".

Personal life

Childhood

Jacintha Buddicom's account Eric & Us provides an insight into the Blair's childhood.[61] She quoted his sister Avril that "he was essentially an aloof, undemonstrative person" and said herself of his friendship with the Buddicoms "I do not think he needed any other friends beyond the schoolfriend he occasionally and appreciatively referred to as 'CC'". Cyril Connolly provides an account of Blair as a child in Enemies of Promise.[62] Years later, Blair mordantly recalled his Prep School in the essay "Such, Such Were the Joys", claiming among other things that he "was made to study like a dog" to earn a scholarship, which he alleged that was solely to enhance the school's prestige with parents. Jacintha Buddicom repudiated Orwell's schoolboy misery described in the essay, stating that "he was a specially happy child".

Connolly remarked of him as a schoolboy, "The remarkable thing about Orwell was that alone among the boys he was an intellectual and not a parrot for he thought for himself".[62] At Eton, John Vaughan Wilkes his former headmaster's son recalled, "...he was extremely argumentative — about anything — and criticising the masters and criticising the other boys.... We enjoyed arguing with him. He would generally win the arguments — or think he had anyhow."[63] Roger Mynors concurs: "Endless arguments about all sorts of things, in which he was one of the great leaders. He was one of those boys who thought for himself...." [64]

Blair liked to carry out practical jokes. Buddicom recalls him swinging from the luggage rack in a railway carriage like an orang-utang to frighten a woman passenger out of the compartment.[11] At Eton he played tricks on John Crace, his Master in College, among which was to enter a spoof advertisement in a College magazine implying pederasty.[65] Gow, his tutor, said he "made himself as big a nuisance as he could" and "was a very unattractive boy".[66] Later Blair was expelled from the crammer at Southwold for sending a dead rat as a birthday present to the town surveyor.[67] In one of his As I Please essays he refers to a protracted joke when he answered an advertisement for a woman who claimed a cure for obesity.[68]

Blair had an enduring interest in natural history which stemmed from his childhood. In letters from school he wrote about caterpillars and butterflies.[69] and Buddicom recalls his keen interest in ornithology. He also enjoyed fishing and shooting rabbits, and conducting experiments as in cooking a hedgehog[11] or shooting down a jackdaw from the Eton roof to dissect it.[64] His zeal for scientific experiments extended to explosives — again Buddicom recalls a cook giving notice because of the noise. Later in Southwold his sister Avril recalled him blowing up the garden. When teaching he enthused his students with his nature-rambles both at Southwold[70] and Hayes.[71] His adult diaries are permeated with his observations on nature.

Relationships

Buddicom and Blair lost touch shortly after he went to Burma, and she became unsympathetic towards him. She wrote that it was because of the letters he wrote complaining about his life, but an addendum to Eric & Us by Venables reveals that he may have lost sympathy through an incident which was at best a clumsy seduction.[11]

Mabel Fierz, who later became his confidante, said "He used to say the one thing he wished in this world was that he'd been attractive to women. He liked women and had many girlfriends I think in Burma. He had a girl in Southwold and another girl in London. He was rather a womaniser, yet he was afraid he wasn't attractive."[72]

Brenda Salkield (Southwold) preferred friendship to any deeper relationship and maintained a correspondence with Blair for many years, particularly as a sounding board for his ideas. She wrote "He was a great letter writer. Endless letters, And I mean when he wrote you a letter he wrote pages."[72] His correspondence with Eleanor Jacques (London) was more prosaic, dwelling on a closer relationship and referring to past assignments or planning future ones in London and Burnham Beeches.[73]

When Orwell was in the sanitorium in Kent his wife's friend Lydia Jackson visited. He invited her for a walk and out of sight "an awkward situation arose."[74] Jackson was to be the most critical of Orwell's marriage to Eileen O'Shaughnessy but their later correspondence hints a complicity. Eileen at the time was more concerned about Orwell's closeness to Brenda Salkeld. Orwell was to have an affair with his secretary at Tribune which caused Eileen much distress, and others have been mooted. In a letter to Ann Popham he wrote: 'I was sometimes unfaithful to Eileen, and I also treated her badly, and I think she treated me badly, too, at times, but it was a real marriage, in the sense that we had been through awful struggles together and she understood all about my work, etc.'[75], Similarly he suggested to Celia Kirwan that they had both been unfaithful.[76] There are several testaments that it was a well-matched and happy marriage[77][78][79]

Orwell was very lonely after Eileen's death, and desperate for a wife, both as companion for himself and as mother for Richard. He proposed marriage to four women, and eventually Sonia Brownell accepted.

Political views

Orwell liked to provoke argument by challenging the status quo, but he was also a traditionalist with a love of old English values. He criticised and satirised, from the inside, the various social milieus in which he found himself – provincial town life in A Clergyman's Daughter; middle class pretention in Keep the Aspidistra Flying; preparatory schools in Such Such were the Joys; colonialism in Burmese Days, and socialist groups in the The Road to Wigan Pier. In his Adelphi days he described himself as a "Tory-anarchist".[80][81]

The Spanish Civil War played the most important part in defining Orwell's socialism. He wrote to Cyril Connolly from Barcelona on 8 June 1937: "I have seen wonderful things and at last really believe in Socialism, which I never did before".[82][83] Having witnessed the success of the anarcho-syndicalist communities, and the subsequent brutal suppression of the anarcho-syndicalists and other revolutionaries by the Soviet Union-backed Communists, Orwell returned from Catalonia a staunch anti-Stalinist and joined the Independent Labour Party, his card being issued on 13 June 1938.[69] Although he was never a Trotskyist, he was strongly influenced by the Trotskyist and anarchist critiques of the Soviet regime, and by the anarchists' emphasis on individual freedom. In Part 2 of The Road to Wigan Pier, published by the Left Book Club, Orwell stated: "a real Socialist is one who wishes – not merely conceives it as desirable, but actively wishes – to see tyranny overthrown". Orwell stated in "Why I Write" (1946): "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it."[84] Orwell was a proponent of a federal socialist Europe, a position outlined in his 1947 essay "Toward European Unity", which first appeared in Partisan Review.[85] According to biographer John Newsinger,

the other crucial dimension to Orwell's socialism was his recognition that the Soviet Union was not socialist. Unlike many on the left, instead of abandoning socialism once he discovered the full horror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union, Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union and instead remained a socialist — indeed he became more committed to the socialist cause than ever."[29]

In his 1938 essay "Why I joined the Independent Labour Party", published in the ILP-affiliated New Leader, Orwell wrote:

For some years past I have managed to make the capitalist class pay me several pounds a week for writing books against capitalism. But I do not delude myself that this state of affairs is going to last forever ... the only régime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a Socialist régime. If Fascism triumphs I am finished as a writer – that is to say, finished in my only effective capacity. That of itself would be a sufficient reason for joining a Socialist party.[86]

Towards the end of the essay, he wrote: "I do not mean I have lost all faith in the Labour Party. My most earnest hope is that the Labour Party will win a clear majority in the next General Election."[87]

Like most other left-wingers in the United Kingdom in the pre-World War II era,[citation needed] Orwell was opposed to rearmament against Nazi Germany — but he changed his view after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the outbreak of the war. He left the ILP over its pacifism and adopted a political position of "revolutionary patriotism". In December 1940 he wrote in Tribune (the Labour left's weekly): "We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary." During the war, Orwell was highly critical of the popular idea that an Anglo-Soviet alliance would be the basis of a post-war world of peace and prosperity. In 1942, commenting on journalist E. H. Carr's pro-Soviet views, Orwell stated: "all the appeasers, e.g. Professor E. H. Carr, have switched their allegiance from Hitler to Stalin."[88]

On anarchism, Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier: "I worked out an anarchistic theory that all government is evil, that the punishment always does more harm than the crime and the people can be trusted to behave decently if you will only let them alone." He continued to deconstruct his former opinion as "sentimental nonsense" and argued that "it is always necessary to protect peaceful people from violence. In any state of society where crime can be profitable you have got to have a harsh criminal law and administer it ruthlessly."

In his reply (dated 15 November 1943) to an invitation from the Duchess of Atholl to speak for the British League for European Freedom, he stated that he didn't agree with their objectives. He admitted that what they said was "more truthful than the lying propaganda found in most of the press" but added that he could not "associate himself with an essentially Conservative body" that claimed to "defend democracy in Europe" but had "nothing to say about British imperialism". His closing paragraph stated: "I belong to the Left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country."[89]

Orwell joined the staff of Tribune as literary editor, and from then until his death, was a left-wing (though hardly orthodox) Labour-supporting democratic socialist. He canvassed for the Labour Party in the 1945 general election and was broadly supportive of its actions in office.[citation needed] According to Newsinger, although Orwell "was always critical of the 1945-51 Labour government's moderation, his support for it began to pull him to the right politically. This did not lead him to embrace conservatism, imperialism or reaction, but to defend, albeit critically, Labour reformism."[90] Between 1945 and 1947, with A. J. Ayer and Bertrand Russell, he contributed a series of articles and essays to Polemic, a short-lived British "Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics" edited by the ex-Communist Humphrey Slater.[91][92]

Writing in the spring of 1945 a long essay titled "Antisemitism in Britain", for the Contemporary Jewish Record, Orwell stated that anti-Semitism was on the increase in Britain, and that it was "irrational and will not yield to arguments." He argued that it would be useful to discover why anti-Semites could "swallow such absurdities on one particular subject while remaining sane on others."[93] He wrote: "For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. ... Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own anti-Semitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness."[94] In Nineteen Eighty-Four, written shortly after the war, Orwell portrayed the Party as enlisting anti-Semitic passions against their enemy, Goldstein. Nevertheless, he opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, taking an anti-colonialist stance against Zionism.[citation needed]

Orwell publicly defended P.G. Wodehouse against charges of being a Nazi sympathiser; a defence based on Wodehouse's lack of interest in and ignorance of politics.

The British intelligence group Special Branch maintained a file on Orwell for more than 20 years of his life. The dossier, published by The National Archives, mentions that according to one investigator, Orwell had "advanced Communist views and several of his Indian friends say that they have often seen him at Communist meetings". MI5, the intelligence department of the Home Office, noted: "It is evident from his recent writings—'The Lion and the Unicorn'—and his contribution to Gollancz's symposium The Betrayal of the Left that he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him."[95]

Social interactions

Orwell was noted for very close and enduring friendships with a few friends, but these were generally people with a similar background or with a similar level of literary ability. Ungregarious, he was out of place in a crowd and his discomfort was exacerbated when he was outside his own class. Though representing himself as a spokesman for the common man he often appeared out of place with real working people. His brother-in-law Humphrey Dakin, a "Hail fellow, well met" type, who took him to a local pub in Leeds, said that he was told by the landlord: "Don't bring that bugger in here again".[96] Adrian Fierz commented "He wasn't interested in racing or greyhounds or pub crawling or shove ha'penny. He just did not have much in common with people who did not share his intellectual interests".[97] Awkwardness attended many of his encounters with working class representatives as with Pollitt and McNair.[98] but his courtesy and good manners were often commented on. Jack Common observed on meeting him for the first time "Right away manners, and more than manners — breeding — showed through".[99]

In his tramping days, he did domestic work for a time. His extreme politeness was recalled by a member of the family he worked for; she declared that the family referred to him as "Laurel" after the film comedian.[20] With his gangling figure and awkwardness, Orwell's friends often saw him as a figure of fun. Geoffrey Gorer commented "He was awfully likely to knock things off tables, trip over things. I mean, he was a gangling, physically badly co-ordinated young man. I think his feelings that even the inanimate world was against him..."[100] When he shared a flat with Heppenstall and Sayer, he was treated in a patronising manner by the younger men.[101] At the BBC, in the 1940s, "everybody would pull his leg"[102] and Spender described him as having real entertainment value "like, as I say, watching a Charlie Chaplin movie".[103] A friend of Eileen's reminisced about her tolerance and humour, often at Orwell's expense.[78]

Orwell has often been accused of having had an authoritarian streak. In Burma, he struck out at a Burmese boy who while "fooling around" with his friends "accidentally bumped into him" at a station so that he "fell heavily" down some stairs.[104] One of his former pupils recalled being beaten so hard he could not sit down for a week.[105] When sharing a flat with Orwell, Heppenstall came home late one night in an advanced stage of loud inebriation. The upshot was that Heppenstall ended up with a bloody nose and was locked in a room. When he complained, Orwell hit him a crack across the legs with a shooting stick and Heppenstall then had to defend himself with a chair. Years later, after Orwell's death, Heppenstall wrote a dramatic account of the incident called "The Shooting Stick"[106] and Mabel Fierz confirmed that Heppenstall came to her in a sorry state the following day.[107]

However, Orwell got on well with young people. The pupil he beat considered him the best of teachers, and the young recruits in Barcelona tried to drink him under the table — though without success. His nephew recalled Uncle Eric laughing louder than anyone in the cinema at a Charlie Chaplin film.[77]

In the wake of his most famous works, he attracted many uncritical hangers-on, but many others who sought him found him aloof and even dull. With his soft voice, he was sometimes shouted down or excluded from discussions.[108] At this time, he was severely ill; it was wartime or the austerity period after it; during the war his wife suffered from depression; and after her death he was lonely and unhappy. In addition to that, he always lived frugally and seemed unable to care for himself properly. As a result of all this, people found his circumstances bleak.[109] Some, like Michael Ayrton, called him "Gloomy George", but others developed the idea that he was a "secular saint".

Lifestyle

Orwell was a heavy smoker, rolling his own cigarettes from strong shag tobacco, in spite of his bronchial condition, and he even smoked in sanatoriums and hospitals, which was permitted in those days. He undermined his health with a penchant for the rugged life which often put him in cold and damp situations both in the long term as in Catalonia and Jura, and short term, for example in motorcycling in the rain and a shipwreck of his own creation. His love of strong tea was legendary — he had Fortnum & Mason's tea brought to him in Catalonia[8] and in 1946 published "A Nice Cup of Tea" on how to make it. He appreciated English beer, taken regularly and moderately, despised drinkers of lager[110] and wrote about an imagined, ideal pub in his 1946 newspaper article "The Moon Under Water".[111] Not being particular about food, he enjoyed the wartime "Victory Pie"[112] extolled canteen food at the BBC[102] and once ate the cat's dinner by mistake.[113] However he preferred traditional English dishes such as roast beef and kippers[114] and reports of his Islington days refer to the cosy afternoon tea table.

His dress sense was unpredictable and usually casual.[115] In Southwold he had the best cloth from the local tailor,[116] but was equally happy in his tramping outfit. His attire in the Spanish Civil War, along with his size 12 boots was a source of amusement.[117][118] David Astor described him as looking like a prep school master,[119] while according to the Special Branch dossier, Orwell's tendency of clothing himself "in Bohemian fashion" revealed that the author was "a Communist".[120]

Orwell's confusing approach to matters of social decorum—on the one hand expecting a working class guest to dress for dinner,[121] and on the other hand slurping tea out of a saucer at the BBC canteen[122]—helped stoke his reputation as an English eccentric.

Biographies

Orwell's will requested that no biography of him be written, and his wife Sonia Orwell repelled every attempt by those who tried to persuade her to let them write about him. Various recollections and interpretations were published in the 1950s and 1960s but Sonia saw the 1968 Collected Works[68] as the record of his life. She did appoint Muggeridge as official biographer, but later biographers have seen this as deliberate spoiling as Muggeridge eventually gave up the work[31] In 1973 American authors Stansky and Williams[123] produced an unauthorised account of his early years which inevitably lacked Sonia Orwell's input. She then commissioned Bernard Crick, a left-wing professor of politics at London University to complete a biography and asked all Orwell's friends to co-operate.[124] Crick collated a considerable amount of material in his work which was published in 1980,[69] but his questioning of the literal truth of Orwell's first-person writings led to conflict with Sonia who tried unsuccessfully to suppress the book. Crick concentrated on the facts of Orwell's life rather than his character, and as a professor of politics presented primarily a political perspective on Orwell's life and work.[125]

After Sonia Orwell's death many more works were produced in the 1980s with 1984 being a particularly fruitful year for Orwelliana. These included collections of reminiscences by Coppard and Crick[67] and Stephen Wadhams.[72]

In 1991 a biography was produced by Michael Shelden, an American Professor of Literature.[16] Shelden was more concerned with the literary nature of Orwell’s work seeking explanations for Orwell's character and treating his first person writings as autobiographical. Shelden introduced several new pieces of information correcting some of the errors and omissions in Crick's earlier work.[126] Shelden attributed to Orwell an obsessive belief in his failure and inadequacy.

Peter Davison's production of the Complete Works of George Orwell, completed in 2000[127] put most of the Orwell Archive in the public domain. Jeffrey Meyers, a prolific American biographer, was first to take advantage of this and produced a work[128] that was more willing to investigate the darker side of Orwell and question the saintly image.[126] Why Orwell Matters was published by Christopher Hitchens in 2002.

In 2003, the centenary of Orwell's birth resulted in the two most up-to-date biographies by Gordon Bowker[129] and D. J. Taylor, both academics and writers in the United Kingdom. Taylor notes the stage management which surrounds much of Orwell's behaviour,[8] and Bowker highlights the essential sense of decency which he considers to have been Orwell's main driver.[130][131]

Bibliography

Novels
Books based on personal experiences

While the substance of many of Orwell's novels, particularly Burmese Days, is drawn from his personal experiences, the following are works presented as narrative documentaries, rather than being fictionalised.

About George Orwell

  • Anderson, Paul (ed). Orwell in Tribune: 'As I Please' and Other Writings. Methuen/Politico's 2006. ISBN 1-842-75155-7
  • Bowker, Gordon. George Orwell. Little Brown. 2003. ISBN 0-316-86115-4
  • Buddicom, Jacintha. Eric & Us. Finlay Publisher. 2006. ISBN 0-9553708-0-9
  • Caute, David. Dr. Orwell and Mr. Blair, Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81438-9
  • Crick, Bernard. George Orwell: A Life. Penguin. 1982. ISBN 0-14-005856-7
  • Flynn, Nigel. George Orwell. The Rourke Corporation, Inc. 1990. ISBN 0-86593-018-X
  • Hitchens, Christopher. Why Orwell Matters. Basic Books. 2003. ISBN 0-465-03049-1
  • Hollis, Christopher. A Study of George Orwell: The Man and His Works. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co. 1956. ASIN B000ANO242

.

  • Larkin, Emma. Finding George Orwell in Burma. Penguin. 2005. ISBN 1-59420-052-1
  • Lee, Robert A, Orwell's Fiction. University of Notre Dame Press, 1969. LC 74-75151
  • Leif, Ruth Ann, Homage to Oceania. The Prophetic Vision of George Orwell. Ohio State U.P. [1969]
  • Meyers, Jeffery. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation. W.W.Norton. 2000. ISBN 0-393-32263-7
  • Newsinger, John. Orwell's Politics. Macmillan. 1999. ISBN 0-333-68287-4
  • Rodden, John (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell. Cambridge. 2007. ISBN 978-0521675079
  • Shelden, Michael. Orwell: The Authorized Biography. HarperCollins. 1991. ISBN 0-06-016709-2
  • Smith, D. & Mosher, M. Orwell for Beginners. 1984. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative.
  • Taylor, D. J. Orwell: The Life. Henry Holt and Company. 2003. ISBN 0-8050-7473-2
  • West, W. J. The Larger Evils. Edinburgh: Canongate Press. 1992. ISBN 0-86241-382-6 (Nineteen Eighty-Four – The truth behind the satire.)
  • West, W. J. (ed.) George Orwell: The Lost Writings. New York: Arbor House. 1984. ISBN 0-87795-745-2
  • Williams, Raymond, Orwell, Fontana/Collins, 1971
  • Woodcock, George. The Crystal Spirit. Little Brown. 1966. ISBN 1-55164-268-9
  • Orwell's meeting with dos Passos in 1937 Barcelona referenced in Stephen Koch, “The Breaking Point: Hemingway, dos Passos, and the Murder of Jose Robles”

See also

References

  1. ^ Orwell, George (1998). Davison, Peter. ed. I Have Tried to Tell the Truth: 1943–1944. The Complete Works of George Orwell. 16 (1 ed.). Secker & Warburg. p. 37. ISBN 0436203774. "George Orwell's payment book for 20 December 1943 records the sum of pounds 5.50 for a special article of 2,000 words for Tribune. This has never been traced in Tribune under Orwell's name but it now seems certain that an essay, entitled 'Can Socialists Be Happy?' by 'John Freeman' is what is referred to. The name Freeman would have appealed to Orwell as a pseudonym, and the article has many social, political and literary links with Orwell, such as the relation of Lenin to Dickens (the fact that Lenin read A Christmas Carol on his deathbed also appears in the second paragraph of Orwell's 1939 essay, 'Charles Dickens'). A 'real' John Freeman, later editor of the New Statesman, has confirmed that he did not write the article. The reason why Orwell chose to write as 'John Freeman' he never used this pseudonym again is not clear. It may be that Tribune did not want its literary editor to be seen to be associated with its political pages. Possibly it was a device that allowed Orwell to be paid a special fee. Or it may be that he simply wished to see how far Tribune would let him go with his opinions. In any case, the article appeared in the Christmas issue and provoked much debate in the issues that followed. The 'lost essay' is included in the Collected Works and printed here for the first time under Orwell's name." 
  2. ^ Bradfield, Scott. "Orwell's every word: The Complete Works of George Orwell", Times Higher Education, 24 July 1998. Accessed 27 December 2009.
  3. ^ "George Orwell". UCL Orwell Archives. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/special-coll/orwell.shtml. Retrieved 7 November 2008. 
  4. ^ "Why I Write" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.23 (Penguin)
  5. ^ "Still the Moon Under Water", Economist.com, 28 Jul 2008
  6. ^ Crick, Bernard (2004). "Eric Arthur Blair [pseud. George Orwell] (1903–1950)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 
  7. ^ a b Stansky,, Peter; Abrahams, William (1994). "From Bengal to St Cyprian's". The unknown Orwell: Orwell, the transformation. Styanford, CA: Stanford University Press. pp. 5–12. ISBN 9780804723428. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Taylor, D. J. Orwell: The Life. Henry Holt and Company. 2003. ISBN 0-8050-7473-2]
  9. ^ The Road to Wigan Pier pg 1, Ch. 8
  10. ^ Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980. Several earlier biographers suggested that Mrs Blair moved to England in 1907 based on information given by Avril Blair reminiscing of a time before she was born. The evidence to the contrary is the diary of Ida Blair for 1905 and a photograph of Eric aged 3 in an English suburban garden. The earlier date also coincides with a difficult posting for Blair senior, and Marjorie (6) needing an English education.
  11. ^ a b c d Jacintha Buddicom Eric and Us Frewin 1974.
  12. ^ Letters home September 1914 quoted in Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life".
  13. ^ Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard 2 October 1914
  14. ^ Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard 21 July 1916
  15. ^ Stephen Runciman in Stephen Wadhams' Remembering Orwell Penguin 1984
  16. ^ a b Michael Shelden Orwell: The Authorised Biography William Heinemann 1991
  17. ^ Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life, quote from interview with Gow
  18. ^ Ruth Pitter BBC Overseas Service broadcast, 3 January 1956
  19. ^ R. S. Peters A Boy's View of George Orwell Psychology and Ethical Development Allen & Unwin 1974
  20. ^ a b Stella Judt I once met George Orwell in I once Met 1996
  21. ^ Bernard Crick Interview with Geoffrey Stevens in George Orwell: A Life
  22. ^ Avril Dunn My Brother George Orwell Twentieth Century 1961
  23. ^ Correspondence in Collected Essays Journalism and Letters Secker & Warburg 1968
  24. ^ Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.)Orwell: An Age Like This, letters 31 and 33 (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World)
  25. ^ The conventional view that this was a specific commission with a £500 advance is based on a recollection by George Gorer. However Taylor argues that Orwell's subsequent circumstances showed no indication of such largesse, Gollancz was not a person to part with such a sum on speculation, and Gollancz took little proprietorial interest in progress — D. J. Taylor Orwell: The Life Chatto & Windus 2003
  26. ^ "Notes on the Spanish Militia" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.352 (Penguin)
  27. ^ John McNair — Interview with Ian Angus UCL 1964
  28. ^ Letter to Eileen Blair April 1937 in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.296 (Penguin)
  29. ^ a b Newsinger, John "Orwell and the Spanish Revolution" International Socialism Journal Issue 62 Spring 1994
  30. ^ "Harry Milton - The Man Who Saved Orwell" The Hoover Institute. Retrieved on 23 December 2008
  31. ^ a b The author states that evidence discovered at the National Historical Archives in Madrid in 1989 of a security police report to the Tribunal for Espionage and High Treason described 'Eric Blair and his wife Eileen Blair, as 'known Trotskyists' and as 'linking agents of the ILP and the POUM'. Newsinger goes on to state that given Orwell's precarious health, "there can be little doubt that if he had been arrested he would have died in prison."
  32. ^ Malcolm Muggeridge recalls that he asked Orwell if such broadcasts were useful, " 'Perhaps not', he said, somewhat crestfallen. He added, more cheerfully, that anyway, no one could pick up the broadcasts except on short-wave sets which cost about the equivalent of an Indian laborer's earnings over 10 years. At this thought he began to chuckle: a dry, vibrant, somehow rusty chuckle, very characteristic and very endearing." http://orwell.ru/library/novels/Burmese_Days/english/e_mm_int Malcolm Muggeridge: “Introduction” Published: Time Incorporation Book Division, USA, New York. — 1962. Burmese Days
  33. ^ Orwell, G. & Davison, P. I Have Tried to Tell the Truth Secker & Warburg, 1999 ISBN 0436203707, 9780436203701
  34. ^ a b Timothy Garton Ash: "Orwell's List" in "The New York Review of Books", Number 14, 25 September 2003
  35. ^ "The Orwell Prize | Life and Work — Exclusive Access to the Orwell Archive". http://www.theorwellprize.co.uk/life-and-work.aspx. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  36. ^ Barnhill is located at 56° 06' 39" N 5° 41' 30" W (British national grid reference system NR705970)
  37. ^ David Holbrook in Stephen Wadham's Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  38. ^ The Guardian John Ezard Blair's babe Did love turn Orwell into a government stooge? Saturday 21 June 2003
  39. ^ "George Orwell's Widow; Edited Husband's Works". Associated Press. 12 December 1980, Friday. "London, Friday, 12 December (Associated Press) Sonia Orwell, widow of the writer George Orwell, died here yesterday, The Times of London reported today. The newspaper gave no details." 
  40. ^ "George Orwell, Author, 46, Dead. British Writer, Acclaimed for His '1984' and 'Animal Farm,' is Victim of Tuberculosis. Two Novels Popular Here Distaste for Imperialism". New York Times. 22 January 1950, Sunday. "London, 21 January 1950. George Orwell, noted British novelist, died of tuberculosis in a hospital here today at the age of 46." 
  41. ^ Andrew Anthony, 'Review: George Orwell's Books', The Observer, 11 May 2003, Observer Review Pages, Pg. 1.
  42. ^ Irving Howe considered Orwell "the best English essayist since Hazlitt" George Orwell: “As the bones know” by Irving Howe, Harper's Magazine January 1969; reprinted in Newsweek as "was the finest journalist of his day and the foremost architect of the English essay since Hazlitt."
  43. ^ Letter to Gleb Struve, 17 February 1944, Orwell: Essays, Journalism and Letters Vol 3, ed Sonia Brownell and Ian Angus
  44. ^ "Malcolm Muggeridge: Introduction". http://orwell.ru/library/novels/Burmese_Days/english/e_mm_int. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  45. ^ "Does Orwell Matter?". http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uk/2939606.html. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  46. ^ "George Orwell: Rudyard Kipling". http://orwell.ru/library/reviews/kipling/english/e_rkip. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  47. ^ George Woodcock Introduction to Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin 1984
  48. ^ Orwell Today
  49. ^ a b c d e "Orwell’s Century" Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg. PBS
  50. ^ "The saint of common decency" by Piers Brendon The Guardian, 7 June 2003
  51. ^ Raymond Williams Politics and Letters 1979
  52. ^ Christopher Norris Language, Truth and Ideology:Orwell and the Post War Left in Inside the Myth:Orwell views from the Left Lawrence and Whishart 1984
  53. ^ Rodden, John (2002). George Orwell: the politics of literary reputation. Edison, NJ: Transaction. pp. 394–395. ISBN 9780765808967. 
  54. ^ Alan Brown Examining Orwell: Political and Literary Values in Education in Christopher Norris Inside the Myth Orwell:Views from the Left Lawrence and Wishart 1984
  55. ^ Editorial review of Orwell's Victory by Christopher Hitchens
  56. ^ T R Fyvel A Writer's Life World Review June 1950
  57. ^ T. R. Fyvel, A Case for George Orwell?, Twentieth Century, September 1956, pp.257–8
  58. ^ "Banned Books 1984". marchinred.com. http://marchinred.com/BB1984.html. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
  59. ^ George Orwell: You and the Atomic Bomb
  60. ^ "George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946". http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  61. ^ Jacintha Buddicom Eric & Us Frewin 1974.
  62. ^ a b Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise, 1938 ISBN 0-233-97936-0
  63. ^ John Wilkes in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell" Penguin Books 1984.
  64. ^ a b Roger Mynors in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984.
  65. ^ Christopher Hollis A Study of George Orwell
  66. ^ Interview with Bernard Crick in George Orwell: A life
  67. ^ a b Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  68. ^ a b Collected Essays Journalism and Letters Secker & Warburg 1968
  69. ^ a b c Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980
  70. ^ R. S. Peters A Boy's View of George Orwell in Psychology and Ethical Development Allen & Unwin 1974
  71. ^ Geoffrey Stevens in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin 1984
  72. ^ a b c Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  73. ^ Correspondence in Collected Essays Journalism and Letters, Secker & Warburg 1968
  74. ^ Peter Davison ed. George Orwell: Complete Works XI 336
  75. ^ George Orwell: A Life, Bernard Crick, p.480
  76. ^ Celia Goodman interview with Shelden June 1989 in Michael Shelden Orwell:The Authorised Biography
  77. ^ a b Henry Dakin in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell
  78. ^ a b Patrica Donahue in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell
  79. ^ Michael Meyer Not Prince Hamlet: Literary and Theatrcal Memoirs 1989
  80. ^ Richard Rees, Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory, Secker & Warburg 1961
  81. ^ Rayner Heppenstall, Four Absentees, Barrie and Rockcliff 1960
  82. ^ Cyril Connolly George Orwell 3 in The Evening Colonnade David Bruce and Watson 1973
  83. ^ The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.301 (Penguin)
  84. ^ "Why I Write" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.23 (Penguin)
  85. ^ [1]
  86. ^ The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.373 (Penguin)
  87. ^ "Why I Write" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 – An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.374 (Penguin)
  88. ^ Collini, Stefan (5 March 2008). "E. H. Carr: historian of the future". London: Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article3490032.ece. Retrieved 9 November 2008. 
  89. ^ Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.). The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4: In Front of Your Nose (1945-1950) (Penguin)
  90. ^ John Newsinger in Socialist Review Issue 276 July/August 2003
  91. ^ David Buckman, Art-Historical Notes: "Where are the Hirsts of the 1930s now?", The Independent, 13 Nov 1998
  92. ^ Stefan Collini, Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain, Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 9780199291052
  93. ^ "Antisemitism in Britain", in As I Please: 1943–1945, pp 332–341.
  94. ^ "Notes on Nationalism", 1945
  95. ^ Staff (4 September 2007). "MI5 confused by Orwell's politics". BBC News (BBC). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6976576.stm. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  96. ^ Ian Angus Interview 23–25 April 1965 quoted in Stansky and Abrahams The Unknown George Orwell
  97. ^ Adrian Fierz in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell
  98. ^ John McNair George Orwell: The Man I knew MA Thesis — Newcastle University Library 1965 quoted in Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life
  99. ^ Jack Common Collection Newcastle University Library quoted in Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980
  100. ^ Geoffrey Gorer – recorded for Melvyn Bragg BBC Omnibus production The Road to the Left 1970
  101. ^ Rayner Heppenstall Four Absentees in Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  102. ^ a b Sunday Wilshin in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  103. ^ Stephen Spender in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  104. ^ Maung Htin Aung George Orwell and Burma in Miriam Goss The World of George Orwell Weidenfield & Nicholson 1971
  105. ^ Geoffrey Stevens, Bernard Crick Interview in George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980
  106. ^ Heppenstall "The Shooting Stick Twentieth Century April 1955
  107. ^ Mabel Fierz, Bernard Crick Interview (1973) in George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980
  108. ^ Michael Meyer Not Prince Hamlet: Literary and Theatrical Memoirs Secker and Warburg 1989
  109. ^ T. R. Fyval George Orwell: A Personal Memoir 1982
  110. ^ Lettice Cooper in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  111. ^ George Orwell, 'The Moon Under Water', Evening Standard, 9 February 1946 http://www.theorwellprize.co.uk/the-award/works/orwellessaymoonunderwater.aspx
  112. ^ Julian Symonds in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  113. ^ Patricia Donahue in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  114. ^ George Orwell: A Life, Bernard Crick, p.502
  115. ^ George Orwell: A Life, Bernard Crick, p.504
  116. ^ Jack Denny in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  117. ^ Bob Edwards in Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  118. ^ Jennie Lee in Peter Davison Complete Works XI 5
  119. ^ David Astor Interview in Michael Shelden
  120. ^ "Watching Orwell — International Herald Tribune". http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/09/07/opinion/edorwell.php. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  121. ^ Jack Braithwaite in Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  122. ^ John Morris Some are more equal than others Penguin New Writing No. 40 1950
  123. ^ Peter Stansky and William Abrahams The Unknown Orwell Constable 1972
  124. ^ Gordon Bowker – Orwell and the biographers in John Rodden The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell Cambridge University Press 2007
  125. ^ "VQR » Wintry Conscience". http://www.vqronline.org/articles/1982/spring/meyers-wintry-conscience/. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  126. ^ a b Gordon Bowker – Orwell and the biographers in John Rodden The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell Cambridge University Press 2007
  127. ^ Peter Davison The Complete Works of George Orwell Random House, ISBN 0151351015
  128. ^ Jeffrey Meyers Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated, 2001ISBN 0393322637
  129. ^ "The Orwell Prize | Gordon Bowker: The Biography Orwell Never Wrote (essay)". http://www.theorwellprize.co.uk/the-award/works/gordonbowker1.aspx. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  130. ^ Gordon Bowker George Orwell Little, Brown 2003
  131. ^ Observer review: Orwell by DJ Taylor and George Orwell by Gordon Bowker Observer on Sunday 1 June 2003

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell was the pen name of British novelist, essayist, and journalist Eric Arthur Blair (1903-06-251950-01-21).

See also:
The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)
Animal Farm (1945)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Contents

Sourced

  • Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not money, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not money, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not money, it profiteth me nothing. Money suffereth long, and is kind; money envieth not; money vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. ... And now abideth faith, hope, money, these three; but the greatest of these is money.
I Corinthians xiii (adapted)
  • They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket.
    • Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)
  • One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words 'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.
  • If there are certain pages of Mr Bertrand Russell's book, Power, which seem rather empty, that is merely to say that we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. It is not merely that at present the rule of naked force obtains almost everywhere. Probably that has always been the case. Where this age differs from those immediately preceding it is that a liberal intelligentsia is lacking. Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion, and such truisms as that a machine-gun is still a machine-gun even when a "good" man is squeezing the trigger -- and that in effect is what Mr Russell is saying -- have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter.
    • Review of Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell in Adelphi (January 1939); Paraphrased variant: Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
  • Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.
  • When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens's photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry — in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.
    • "Charles Dickens" (1939), Inside the Whale and Other Essays (1940)
  • [Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flag and loyalty-parades…. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.
  • Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively the pacifist is pro-Nazi.
    • "No, Not One," Adelphi (October 1941)
  • You and I both know that there can be no real solution of the Indian problem which does not also benefit Britain. Either we all live in a decent world, or nobody does. It is so obvious, is it not, that the British worker as well as the Indian peasant stands to gain by the ending of capitalist exploitation, and that Indian independence is a lost cause if the Fascist nations are allowed to dominate the world.
    • From a review of Letters on India by Mulk Raj Anand, Tribune (1943-03-19)
  • Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache. They wanted to produce a perfect society by an endless continuation of something that had only been valuable because it was temporary. The wider course would be to say that there are certain lines along which humanity must move, the grand strategy is mapped out, but detailed prophecy is not our business. Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness.
  • During part of 1941 and 1942, when the Luftwaffe was busy in Russia, the German radio regaled its home audience with stories of devastating air raids on London. Now, we are aware that those raids did not happen. But what use would our knowledge be if the Germans conquered Britain? For the purpose of a future historian, did those raids happen, or didn’t they? The answer is: If Hitler survives, they happened, and if he falls they didn’t happen. So with innumerable other events of the past ten or twenty years. Is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion a genuine document? Did Trotsky plot with the Nazis? How many German aeroplanes were shot down in the Battle of Britain? Does Europe welcome the New Order? In no case do you get one answer which is universally accepted because it is true: in each case you get a number of totally incompatible answers, one of which is finally adopted as the result of a physical struggle. History is written by the winners.
  • Between them these two books sum up our present predicament. Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can somehow be combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.
  • The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside. Quite a number of people console themselves with this thought, now that totalitarianism in one form or another is visibly on the up-grade in every part of the world. Out in the street the loudspeakers bellow, the flags flutter from the rooftops, the police with their tommy-guns prowl to and fro, the face of the Leader, four feet wide, glares from every hoarding; but up in the attics the secret enemies of the regime can record their thoughts in perfect freedom — that is the idea, more or less.
  • Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.
  • Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.
    • "Benefit Of Clergy: Some Notes On Salvador Dalí," Dickens, Dali & Others: Studies in Popular Culture (1944) [7]
  • So far as I can see, all political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
    • "London Letter" (December 1944), in Partisan Review (Winter 1945)
  • Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows, and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon — so long as there is no answer to it — gives claws to the weak.
  • … in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of "cold war" with its neighbours.[Commonly cited as the first documented use of the phrase "cold war"]
    • "You and the Atom Bomb", Tribune, 19 October 1945.
    • Reprinted in Orwell; Sonia Orwell, Ian Angus (2000). "1945". George Orwell: The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters, Volume 4: In Front of Your Nose (1946–1950). David R. Godine. pp. p. 9. ISBN 1567921361.  
  • Scientific education for the masses will do little good, and probably a lot of harm, if it simply boils down to more physics, more chemistry, more biology, etc to the detriment of literature and history. Its probable effect on the average human being would be to narrow the range of his thoughts and make him more than ever contemptuous of such knowledge as he did not possess.
  • The whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish day-dream. Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also.
  • Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.
  • Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
    • Review of A Coat of Many Colours: Occasional Essays by Herbert Read, Poetry Quarterly (Winter 1945)
  • The enemies of intellectual liberty always try to present their case as a plea for discipline versus individualism. The issue truth-versus-untruth is as far as possible kept in the background. Although the point of emphasis may vary, the writer who refuses to sell his opinions is always branded as a mere egoist. He is accused, that is, either of wanting to shut himself up in an ivory tower, or of making an exhibitionist display of his own personality, or of resisting the inevitable current of history in an attempt to cling to unjustified privileges.
  • So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the Earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.
  • The Spanish war and other events in 1936-7 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I know it.
    • "Why I Write," Gangrel (Summer 1946)
  • Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
    • "Why I Write," Gangrel (Summer 1946)
  • In my opinion, nothing has contributed so much to the corruption of the original idea of socialism as the belief that Russia is a socialist country and that every act of its rulers must be excused, if not imitated. And so for the last ten years, I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the socialist movement.
    • Preface to Animal Farm (1945)
  • If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    • Preface to Animal Farm (1945)
  • The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
  • To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
    • "In Front of Your Nose," Tribune (1946-03-22)
  • Certainly we ought to be discontented, we ought not simply to find out ways of making the best of a bad job, and yet if we kill all pleasure in the actual process of life, what sort of future are we preparing for ourselves? If a man cannot enjoy the return of spring, why should he be happy in a labour-saving Utopia? What will he do with the leisure that the machine will give him?
  • By preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.
    • "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad," Tribune (1946-04-12)
  • The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.
    • "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad," Tribune (1946-04-12)
  • In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by "thou shalt not", the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by "love" or "reason", he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.
  • People talk about the horrors of war, but what weapon has man invented that even approaches in cruelty to some of the commoner diseases? "Natural" death, almost by definition, means something slow, smelly and painful.
  • While the game of deadlocks and bottle-necks goes on, another more serious game is also being played. It is governed by two axioms. One is that there can be no peace without a general surrender of sovereignty: the other is that no country capable of defending its sovereignty ever surrenders it. If one keeps these axioms in mind one can generally see the relevant facts in international affairs through the smoke-screen with which the newspapers surround them.
  • This business of making people conscious of what is happening outside their own small circle is one of the major problems of our time, and a new literary technique will have to be evolved to meet it. Considering that the people of this country are not having a very comfortable time, you can't perhaps, blame them for being somewhat callous about suffering elsewhere, but the remarkable thing is the extent to which they manage to be unaware of it. Tales of starvation, ruined cities, concentration camps, mass deportations, homeless refugees, persecuted Jews — all this is received with a sort of incurious surprise, as though such things had never been heard of but at the same time were not particularly interesting. The now-familiar photographs of skeleton-like children make very little impression. As time goes on and the horrors pile up, the mind seems to secrete a sort of self-protecting ignorance which needs a harder and harder shock to pierce it, just as the body will become immunised to a drug and require bigger and bigger doses.
  • But is it really necessary, in 1947, to teach children to use expressions like "native" and "Chinaman"?
  • A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.
  • If you turn the other cheek, you will get a harder blow on it than you got on the first one. This does not always happen, but it is to be expected, and you ought not to complain if it does happen.
    • "Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool," Polemic (March 1947)
  • A normal human being does not want the Kingdom of Heaven: he wants life on earth to continue. This is not solely because he is "weak," "sinful" and anxious for a "good time." Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise. Ultimately it is the Christian attitude which is self-interested and hedonistic, since the aim is always to get away from the painful struggle of earthly life and find eternal peace in some kind of Heaven or Nirvana. The humanist attitude is that the struggle must continue and that death is the price of life.
    • "Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool," Polemic (March 1947)
  • No one can look back on his schooldays and say with truth that they were altogether unhappy.
  • Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.
    • "The Freedom Defence Committee" in "The Socialist Leader (18 September 1948); also in The Collected Essays, Journalism, & Letters, George Orwell; Vol. IV : In front of your nose, 1945-1950 (2000), p. 447
  • The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals.
    • "Reflections on Gandhi, in Partisan Review (January 1949); full essay here
  • I always disagree, however, when people end up saying that we can only combat Communism, Fascism or what not if we develop an equal fanaticism. It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one's intelligence.
  • It is difficult for a statesman who still has a political future to reveal everything that he knows: and in a profession in which one is a baby at 50 and middle-aged at seventy-five, it is natural that anyone who has not actually been disgraced should feel that he still has a future.
  • One cannot really be Catholic & grown-up.
    • "Extracts from a Manuscript Notebook" (1949), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol. 4 (1968)
  • During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
    • As quoted in My Few Wise Words of Wisdom‎' (2000) by Charles Walker
    • Variants: In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
      In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
      In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
      Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.
  • Within any important issue, there are always aspects no one wishes to discuss.

Down and out in Paris and London (1933)

Full text online
  • Poverty is what I'm writing about.
  • The Paris slums are a gathering-place for eccentric people — people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent. Poverty frees them from normal standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work. Some of the lodgers in our hotel lived lives that were curious beyond words.
  • For, when you are approaching poverty, you make one discovery which outweighs some of the others. You discover boredom and mean complications and the beginnings of hunger, but you also discover the great redeeming feature of poverty: the fact that it annihilates the future. Within certain limits, it is actually true that the less money you have, the less you worry.
  • Hunger reduces one to an utterly spineless, brainless condition, more like the after-effects of influenza than anything else. It is as though all one's blood had been pumped out and lukewarm water substituted.
  • There is only one way to make money at writing, and that is to marry a publisher's daughter.
    • Record of a remark by Orwell's fellow tramp Boris
  • One always abandons something in retreat. Look at Napoleon at the Beresina! He abandoned his whole army.
    • A remark by Boris
  • Fate seemed to be playing a series of extraordinarily unamusing jokes.
  • It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you.
    • A remark by Boris
  • Roughly speaking, the more one pays for food, the more sweat and spittle one is obliged to eat with it. ... Dirtiness is inherent in hotels and restaurants, because sound food is sacrificed to punctuality and smartness... The only food at the Hotel X which was ever prepared cleanly was the staff's.
    • About "Hotel X"
  • Looking round that filthy room, with raw meat lying among the refuse on the floor, and cold, clotted saucepans sprawling everywhere, and the sink blocked and coated with grease, I used to wonder whether there could be a restaurant in the world as bad as ours. But the other three all said they had been in dirtier places.
    • 'On the state of the kitchen at the newly opened "Auberge.
  • How sweet the air does smell — even the air of a back-street in the suburbs — after the shut-in, subfaecal stench of the spike!
    • The morning after Orwell is let out of his first tramps' accommodation, or 'spike'
  • Paddy and I had scarcely a wink of sleep, for there was a man near us who had some nervous trouble, shell-shock perhaps, which made him cry out 'Pip!' at irregular intervals. It was a loud, startling noise, something like the toot of a small motor-horn. You never knew when it was coming, and it was a sure preventer of sleep. ...he must have kept ten or twenty people awake every night. He was an example of the kind of thing that prevents one from ever getting enough sleep when men are herded as they are in these lodging houses.'
    • On sleeping in a communal room in a cheap lodging house.
  • He had two subjects of conversation, the shame and come-down of being a tramp, and the best way of getting a free meal.
    • On Paddy the tramp, Orwell's itinerant pal
  • Being a beggar, he said, was not his fault, and he refused either to have any compunction about it or to let it trouble him. He was the enemy of society, and quite ready to take to crime if he saw a good opportunity. He refused on principle to be thrifty. In the summer he saved nothing, spending his surplus earnings on drink, as he did not care about women. If he was penniless when winter came on, then society must look after him. He was ready to extract every penny he could from charity, provided that he was not expected to say thank you for it. He avoided religious charities, however, for he said it stuck in his throat to sing hymns for buns. He had various other points of honour; for instance, it was his boast that never in his life, even when starving, had he picked up a cigarette end. He considered himself in a class above the ordinary run of beggars, who, he said, were an abject lot, without even the decency to be ungrateful.
    • On "Bozo"
  • He was an embittered atheist (the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him), and took a sort of pleasure in thinking that human affairs would never improve. Sometimes, he said, when sleeping on the Embankment, it had consoled him to look up at Mars or Jupiter and think that there were probably Embankment sleepers there. He had a curious theory about this. Life on earth, he said, is harsh because the planet is poor in the necessities of existence. Mars, with its cold climate and scanty water, must be far poorer, and life correspondingly harsher. Whereas on earth you are merely imprisoned for stealing sixpence, on Mars you are probably boiled alive. This thought cheered Bozo, I do not know why. He was a very exceptional man.
  • The most bitter insult one can offer to a Londoner is "bastard" — which, taken for what it means, is hardly an insult at all.
  • My story ends here. It is a fairly trivial story, and I can only hope that it has been interesting in the same way as a trivial diary is interesting. ... At present I do not feel I have seen more than the fringe of poverty.
    Still, I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.

Homage to Catalonia (1938)

Full text online
  • I have no particular love for the idealised 'worker' as he appears in the bourgeois Communist's mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.
  • All Spaniards, we discovered, knew two English expressions. One was "O.K., baby", the other was a word used by the Barcelona whores in their dealings with English sailors, and I am afraid the compositors would not print it.
  • The fat Russian agent was cornering all the foreign refugees in turn and explaining plausibly that this whole affair was an Anarchist plot. I watched him with some interest, for it was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies — unless one counts journalists.
  • It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle ... There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for.
  • Human beings were behaving as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine.
  • It is sometimes a comfort to me to think that the aeroplane is changing the conditions of warfare. In the next great war, we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet-hole in him.
  • Everyone always did miss everyone else in this war, whenever it was humanly possible to do so.
  • No one I met at this time — doctors, nurses, practicantes, or fellow-patients — failed to assure me that a man who is hit through the neck and survives it is the luckiest creature alive. I could not help thinking that it would be even luckier not to be hit at all.

The Lion and the Unicorn (1941)

Full text on line
  • As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
    They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are ‘only doing their duty’, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life.
  • One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty. In certain circumstances it can break down, at certain levels of civilization it does not exist, but as a positive force there is nothing to set beside it. Christianity and international Socialism are as weak as straw in comparison with it. Hitler and Mussolini rose to power in their own countries very largely because they could grasp this fact and their opponents could not.
    • The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), Part I : England Your England
  • England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God save the King than of stealing from a poor box.
    • The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), Part I : England Your England
  • Is the English press honest or dishonest? At normal times it is deeply dishonest. All the papers that matter live off their advertisements, and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news. Yet I do not suppose there is one paper in England that can be straightforwardly bribed with hard cash. In the France of the Third Republic all but a very few of the newspapers could notoriously be bought over the counter like so many pounds of cheese.

Looking Back on the Spanish War (1943)

Full text online
  • We have become too civilized to grasp the obvious. For the truth is very simple. To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself. War is evil, and it is often the lesser evil. Those who take the sword perish by the sword, and those who don't take the sword perish by smelly diseases.
  • I have little direct evidence about the atrocities in the Spanish civil war. I know that some were committed by the Republicans, and far more (they are still continuing) by the Fascists. But what impressed me then, and has impressed me ever since, is that atrocities are believed in or disbelieved in solely on grounds of political predilection. Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence.

Notes on Nationalism (1945)

Published in Polemic (October 1945); Full essay online
  • By "nationalism" I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled "good" or "bad." But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.
  • Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception.
  • The average intellectual of the Left...could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.

Politics and the English Language (1946)

Published in Horizon (April 1946); Full text online
  • But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
  • Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive voice where you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Misattributed

  • We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.
    • This has commonly been attributed to Orwell but has not been found in any of his writings. There are similar comments in an essay which Orwell wrote on Rudyard Kipling, quoting from one of Kipling's poems:
      "Yes, making mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep" - Tommy

      It is also similar to what he had written in "Notes on Nationalism":
      Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.

  • If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot, stamping on a human face forever.
    • Slight misquotation in the booklet for Grand Theft Auto 2 of O'Brien's remark in Nineteen Eighty-Four : If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.
  • It's not a matter of whether the war is not real, or if it is, Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia but to keep the very structure of society intact.
    • Michael Moore declares these lines in his film Fahrenheit 9/11 as something "Orwell once wrote". They could be a paraphrase of statements that occur in Nineteen Eighty-Four, or something Orwell wrote about some of the themes in his famous story. They do not appear in precisely this form within the story itself. There has been indication elsewhere that this might be a verbatim reading of lines spoken by one of the characters in one of the movie versions of "1984".
  • To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.
  • We have a hunger for something like authenticity, but are easily satisfied by an ersatz facsimile.
    • Miles Orvell, in The Real Thing : Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture, 1880-1940 (1989)

Quotes about Orwell

  • Though he was a strong believer in individual difference and came to fear, above all, the thought that people would become interchangeable parts in a totalitarian system, he seems to have felt that as a subject for study himself he was a universal, i.e., a fair sample of his kind, capable of normative reactions under dissection. His end has something macabre in it, like the end of some Victorian pathologist who tested his theories on his own organs, neglecting asepsis. In his last letters, he speaks of his appearance as being "frightening," of being a "death's head," but all along he has been something of a specter at the feast. He was prone to see the handwriting on the wall, for England, for socialism, for personal liberty; indeed, his work is one insistent reminder, and his personal life — what we glimpse of it — even when he was fairly affluent seems to have been an illustrated lesson in survival techniques under extreme conditions, as though he expected to be cast adrift in a capsule.
    • Mary McCarthy, "The Writing on the Wall," (1969) The Writing on the Wall and Other Literary Essays (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970, ISBN 0-15-698390-7), p. 159
  • What he feared most was the blind spot between us and the future, the space between identities where we could get lost forever.
    • Wilfrid Sheed, "George Orwell, Artist" (1972), The Good Word & Other Words (Viking/Penguin, 1980, ISBN 0140054979), p. 46
  • [Orwell] could not blow his nose without moralising on conditions in the handkerchief industry.
  • Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's holding your attention every moment you're awake. He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed... and this [act of] being fed, it's worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind. With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
  • Orwell in 1948 understood that despite the Axis defeat, the will to fascism had not gone away, that far from having seen its day it had perhaps not yet even come into its own — the corruption of spirit, the irresistible human addiction to power were already long in place, all well-known aspects of the Third Reich and Stalin's USSR, even the British Labour party — like first drafts of a terrible future.
  • In Burma and Paris and London and on the road to Wigan pier, and in Spain, being shot at, and eventually wounded, by fascists — he had invested blood, pain and hard labour to earn his anger, and was as attached to it as any capitalist to his capital. It may be an affliction peculiar to writers more than others, this fear of getting too comfortable, of being bought off.
    • Thomas Pynchon, "The Road to 1984" - foreword to a 2003 edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four (ISBN 0452284236)
  • The question remains, why end a novel as passionate, violent and dark as this one with what appears to be a scholarly appendix?
    The answer may lie in simple grammar. From its first sentence, "The Principles of Newspeak" is written consistently in the past tense, as if to suggest some later piece of history, post-1984, in which Newspeak has become literally a thing of the past — as if in some way the anonymous author of this piece is by now free to discuss, critically and objectively, the political system of which Newspeak was, in its time, the essence. Moreover, it is our own pre-Newspeak English language that is being used to write the essay. Newspeak was supposed to have become general by 2050, and yet it appears that it did not last that long, let alone triumph, that the ancient humanistic ways of thinking inherent in standard English have persisted, survived, and ultimately prevailed, and that perhaps the social and moral order it speaks for has even, somehow, been restored.
    • Thomas Pynchon, "The Road to 1984" - foreword to a 2003 edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four (ISBN 0452284236)

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|George Orwell]] George Orwell (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) was an English writer. His real name was Eric Arthur Blair.[1][2] He used the name George Orwell for his novels.

He was born in India during the British Empire's rule of India. He is best known for two novels that he wrote in the late 1940s, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. In those works, he said that totalitarianism, especially Stalinism, was very bad.

Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War with the antifascist troops.

Contents

Early life

Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903, in India.[3] His great-grandfather Charles Blair had been a rich gentleman who had married Lady Mary Fane, and he was supported by money from slave plantations in Jamaica. [4] His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman.[5] His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair, grew up in Burma.[4] Eric had two sisters. Marjorie, his first sister, was five years older than him. Avril was five years younger. When Eric was one year old, Ida took him to England.[6]

Eric grew up with his mother and sisters. Except for a short visit, he did not see his father again until 1912. The family moved to Shiplake before World War I. There, Eric became friends with the Buddicom family, especially Jacintha Buddicom. They read poetry and hoped to become famous writers. At this time, he also liked fishing and watching birds with Jacintha's brother and sister.[7]

When he was five, Eric was sent to a convent school where Marjorie went to. It was a Catholic convent.[8] His mother wanted him to go to public school, but his family was not rich enough to pay for it. Ida's brother, Charles Limouzin, was asked to help find the best school to help Eric prepare for better things.[9] He suggested St Cyprian's School in Eastbourne, Sussex. Limouzin, who was a good golfer, came to know the school and its headmaster at the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club. The headmaster helped Blair win the scholarship to pay for his education. He also let Blair's parents pay only half the usual amount of money. However, Blair hated the school.[10]

Bibliography

Novels

  • Burmese Days (1934)
  • A Clergyman's Daughter (1935)
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)
  • Coming Up for Air (1939)
  • Animal Farm (1945)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

Books based on his life

Poems

  • "Romance"
  • "A Little Poem"
  • "Awake! Young Men of England"
  • "Kitchener"
  • "Our Minds are Married, But we are Too Young"
  • "The Pagan"
  • "The Lesser Evil"
  • "Poem From Burma"

References

References

  1. "BBC - History - Historic Figures: George Orwell (1903 - 1950)". bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/orwell_george.shtml. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  2. "George Orwell Biography - Charles' George Orwell Links". netcharles.com. http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/george-orwell-biography.htm. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  3. Crick, Bernard (2004). "Eric Arthur Blair [pseud. George Orwell] (1903–1950)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stansky, Peter; Abrahams, William (1994). "From Bengal to St Cyprian's". The unknown Orwell: Orwell, the transformation. Styanford, CA: Stanford University Press. pp. 5–12. ISBN 9780804723428. 
  5. Taylor, D. J. Orwell: The Life. Henry Holt and Company. 2003. ISBN 0-8050-7473-2]
  6. Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980. Stansky and Abrahams had suggested that Mrs Blair moved to England in 1907 because of information given by Avril Blair remembering a time before she was born.
  7. Buddicom, Jacintha. Eric & Us. Finlay Publisher. 2006. ISBN 0-9553708-0-9
  8. Gordon Bowker, Orwell, p.21
  9. Gordon Bowker, George Orwell biography , p. 28
  10. Alaric Jacob, Sharing Orwell's Joys, but not his Fears in Christopher Norris (ed) Inside the Myth Lawrence and Wishart 1984
mrj:Джордж Оруэлл







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