The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell (Cambridge Companions to Literature)
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George Orwell is regarded as the greatest political writer in English of the twentieth century. The massive critical literature on Orwell has not only become extremely specialized, and therefore somewhat inaccessible to the nonscholar, but it has also attributed to and even created misconceptions about the man, the writer and his literary legacy. For these reasons, an overview of Orwell's writing and influence is an indispensable resource. Accordingly, this 2007 Companion serves as both an introduction to Orwell's work and furnishes numerous innovative interpretations and fresh critical perspectives on it. Throughout the Companion, which includes chapters dedicated to two of Orwell's major novels, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, Orwell's work is placed within the context of the political and social climate of the time. His response to the Depression, British imperialism, Stalinism, World War II, and the politics of the British Left are also examined.
delight than torment. ‘Work in the hotel’, he reports of his interlude as dishwasher, ‘had taught me the true value of sleep. . . . Sleep had ceased to be a mere physical necessity; it was something voluptuous, a debauch more than relief. I had more trouble with the bugs. Mario had told me of a sure remedy for them, namely pepper, strewed thick over the bedclothes. It made me sneeze, but the bugs hated it, and emigrated to other rooms’ (91–92). Orwell’s experiment in downward mobility has struck
between fiction and fact.8 Williams reminds us of how events in Orwell’s diaries, letters and reportage reappear as incidents in the novels. Elephants are shot, church services are attended, and hops are picked in both genres. However in the fiction, argues Williams, Orwell relies on central characters as his ‘intermediaries’, imaginary representatives of the author, who capture only a part of his experience. They represent it in the passive mode, as an enduring of history without the possibility
man’, who looks for whatever joy the world can offer and evokes the past because its satisfactions were greater than the miseries of the present tense. The turn to the first person is at once homage to Miller and a refusal of the detached narrator who had managed the previous novels. George Bowling speaks to us directly and presents himself as the ordinary man of appetite; the ideal reader of the book would be such another. Coming Up for Air aims toward a literary populism that had shown itself
dilemma. Nor did he fully resolve whether he was satirising Burnham’s view of the primacy of pure power as an impossibility: ‘It is curious that in all his talk about the struggle for power, Burnham never stops to ask why people want power’ (‘Second Thoughts on James Burnham’, 1946); or whether he thinks it all too possible that party leaders and civil servants who begin as civilised men end up simply as a regime of office-holders, brutally interested in nothing but power for the sake of power.
particular moment in European life for historians are clear, that sociologists would find the book worthy of citations is intriguing. Exemplifying Orwell’s broad appeal, Down and Out is also cited throughout various disciplines. While it is not surprising that sociologists interested in ethnographic methods (17 per cent of the citations to this book are in sociology journals) and historians find this work valuable, the most intriguing pattern is the book’s appeal to psychologists despite