Orwell: Life and Art

Orwell: Life and Art

Jeffrey Meyers

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0252077466

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This remarkable volume collects, for the first time, essays representing more than four decades of scholarship by one of the world's leading authorities on George Orwell. In clear, energetic prose that exemplifies his indefatigable attention to Orwell's life work, Jeffrey Meyers analyzes the works and reception of one of the most widely read and admired twentieth-century authors.
Orwell: Life and Art covers the novelist's painful childhood and presents accounts of his autobiographical writings from the beginning of his career through the Spanish Civil War. Meyers continues with analyses of Orwell's major works, including Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, as well as his style, distinctive satiric humor, and approach to the art of writing. Meyers ends with a scrupulous examination of six biographies of Orwell, including his own, that embodies a consummate grasp and mastery of both the art of biography and Orwell's life and legacy.
Writing with an authority born of decades of focused scholarship, visits to Orwell's homes and workplaces, and interviews with his survivors, Meyers sculpts a dynamic view of Orwell's enduring influence on literature, art, culture, and politics.

















Wigan Pier (1937), which he had read in Spain. Orwell had been a policeman in Burma and assumed leadership of the British contingent. Frankford resented this, as well as Orwell's belief that “everything he did was right.” He was also annoyed that Stafford Cottman (another British member of POUM), rather than himself, had been invited to Spain for the Arena television program. He didn't seem to realize that his role in events in Barcelona precluded such an invitation. Frankford then described his

all husbands are henpecked; middle-aged men are drunkards; nudism is comical; Air Raid precautions are ludicrous; illegitimate babies and old maids are always funny—and nearly every one of them appears in Coming Up. Actually, Bowling's colloquial humor is far superior to these conventional jokes. He “baptizes” his new false teeth in a pub, compares Hilda's constriction to that of an “average zenana,” says that one old lady thought the Left Book Club had to do with books left in railway carriages,

slave for Houyhnhnms as animals do for pigs, and horses “milk their Cows, and reap their Oats, and do all the Work which requires Hands”5 just as “the pigs sent for buckets and milked the cows fairly successfully, their trotters being well-adapted to this task.”6 He also has strong personal feelings about pigs. In Coming Up for Air (1939), Bowling is frightened by “a herd of pigs [that] was galloping, a sort of huge flood of pig-faces. The next moment, of course, I saw what it was. It wasn't pig

wine in which “a vast bottle composed of electric lights seemed to move up and down and pour its contents into a glass.” Virtually all the Outer Party members are swallowers of slogans: “War is Peace / Freedom is Slavery / Ignorance is Strength.” (Should not it logically be “Ignorance is Wisdom”?) As in a modern political campaign, the head of Big Brother (whose image is an amalgam of Stalin and Kitchener) appears “on coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the

predatory creditors and tax demands, the literary hack tries in vain to write his way out of poverty as a book reviewer. Since most books are worthless yet somehow have to be praised, Orwell calls book reviewing “a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job.” To alleviate this tedium, he advocates fewer but longer reviews; and claims that the book reviewer is, at least, better off than the film critic (who has to praise a greater proportion of trash). Since there's an endless

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