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Read george orwell essays

He took no notice of titles or author's names, but he could tell by merely glancing into a book whether be had 'had it already'. In a lending library you see people's real tastes, not their pretended ones, and one thing that strikes you is how completely the 'classical' English novelists have dropped out of favour. At the mere sight of a nineteenth-century novel people say, 'Oh, but that's old! Yet it is always fairly easy to sell Dickens, just as it is always easy to sell Shakespeare.

Dickens is one of those authors whom people are 'always meaning to' read, and, like the Bible, he is widely known at second hand. People know by hearsay that Bill Sikes was a burglar and that Mr Micawber had a bald head, just as they know by hearsay that Moses was found in a basket of bulrushes and saw the 'back parts' of the Lord.

Another thing that is very noticeable is the growing unpopularity of American books. And another—the publishers get into a stew about this every two or three years—is the unpopularity of short stories. The kind of person who asks the librarian to choose a book for him nearly always starts by saying 'I don't want short stories', or 'I do not desire little stories', as a German customer of ours used to put it.

If you ask them why, they sometimes explain that it is too much fag to get used to a new set of characters with every story; they like to 'get into' a novel which demands no further thought after the first chapter. I believe, though, that the writers are more to blame here than the readers. Most modern short stories, English and American, are utterly lifeless and worthless, far more so than most novels.

The short stories which are stories are popular enough, vide D. Lawrence, whose short stories are as popular as his novels. On the whole—in spite of my employer's kindness to me, and some happy days I spent in the shop—no. Given a good pitch and the right amount of capital, any educated person ought to be able to make a small secure living out of a bookshop. Unless one goes in for 'rare' books it is not a difficult trade to learn, and you start at a great advantage if you know anything about the insides of books.

Most booksellers don't. You can get their measure by having a look at the trade papers where they advertise their wants. If you don't see an ad. Also it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman.

But the hours of work are very long—I was only a part-time employee, but my employer put in a seventy-hour week, apart from constant expeditions out of hours to buy books—and it is an unhealthy life. As a rule a bookshop is horribly cold in winter, because if it is too warm the windows get misted over, and a bookseller lives on his windows. And books give off more and nastier dust than any other class of objects yet invented, and the top of a book is the place where every bluebottle prefers to die.

But the real reason why I should not like to be in the book trade for life is that while I was in it I lost my love of books. A bookseller has to tell lies about books, and that gives him a distaste for them; still worse is the fact that he is constantly dusting them and hauling them to and fro. There was a time when I really did love books—loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old.

Nothing pleased me quite so much as to buy a job lot of them for a shilling at a country auction. There is a peculiar flavour about the battered unexpected books you pick up in that kind of collection: minor eighteenth-century poets, out-of-date gazeteers, odd volumes of forgotten novels, bound numbers of ladies' magazines of the sixties. For casual reading—in your bath, for instance, or late at night when you are too tired to go to bed, or in the odd quarter of an hour before lunch—there is nothing to touch a back number of the Girl's Own Paper.

But as soon as I went to work in the bookshop I stopped buying books. Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening. Nowadays I do buy one occasionally, but only if it is a book that I want to read and can't borrow, and I never buy junk. The sweet smell of decaying paper appeals to me no longer. It is too closely associated in my mind with paranoiac customers and dead bluebottles. In Moulmein, in lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people—the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me.

I was sub-divisional police officer of the town, and in an aimless, petty kind of way anti-European feeling was very bitter. No one had the guts to raise a riot, but if a European woman went through the bazaars alone somebody would probably spit betel juice over her dress.

As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee another Burman looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This happened more than once.

In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans.

All this was perplexing and upsetting. For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically—and secretly, of course—I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been Bogged with bamboos—all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt.

But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East. I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it.

All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum , upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts.

Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty. One day something happened which in a roundabout way was enlightening. It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism—the real motives for which despotic governments act.

Early one morning the sub-inspector at a police station the other end of the town rang me up on the phone and said that an elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Would I please come and do something about it? I did not know what I could do, but I wanted to see what was happening and I got on to a pony and started out. I took my rifle, an old. Various Burmans stopped me on the way and told me about the elephant's doings.

It was not, of course, a wild elephant, but a tame one which had gone "must. Its mahout, the only person who could manage it when it was in that state, had set out in pursuit, but had taken the wrong direction and was now twelve hours' journey away, and in the morning the elephant had suddenly reappeared in the town. The Burmese population had no weapons and were quite helpless against it. It had already destroyed somebody's bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock; also it had met the municipal rubbish van and, when the driver jumped out and took to his heels, had turned the van over and inflicted violences upon it.

The Burmese sub-inspector and some Indian constables were waiting for me in the quarter where the elephant had been seen. It was a very poor quarter, a labyrinth of squalid bamboo huts, thatched with palm-leaf, winding all over a steep hillside. I remember that it was a cloudy, stuffy morning at the beginning of the rains. We began questioning the people as to where the elephant had gone and, as usual, failed to get any definite information. That is invariably the case in the East; a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes.

Some of the people said that the elephant had gone in one direction, some said that he had gone in another, some professed not even to have heard of any elephant. I had almost made up my mind that the whole story was a pack of lies, when we heard yells a little distance away. There was a loud, scandalized cry of "Go away, child!

Go away this instant! Some more women followed, clicking their tongues and exclaiming; evidently there was something that the children ought not to have seen. I rounded the hut and saw a man's dead body sprawling in the mud. He was an Indian, a black Dravidian coolie, almost naked, and he could not have been dead many minutes. The people said that the elephant had come suddenly upon him round the corner of the hut, caught him with its trunk, put its foot on his back and ground him into the earth.

This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to one side. His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony.

Never tell me, by the way, that the dead look peaceful. Most of the corpses I have seen looked devilish. The friction of the great beast's foot had stripped the skin from his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit. As soon as I saw the dead man I sent an orderly to a friend's house nearby to borrow an elephant rifle.

I had already sent back the pony, not wanting it to go mad with fright and throw me if it smelt the elephant. The orderly came back in a few minutes with a rifle and five cartridges, and meanwhile some Burmans had arrived and told us that the elephant was in the paddy fields below, only a few hundred yards away. As I started forward practically the whole population of the quarter flocked out of the houses and followed me.

They had seen the rifle and were all shouting excitedly that I was going to shoot the elephant. They had not shown much interest in the elephant when he was merely ravaging their homes, but it was different now that he was going to be shot. It was a bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd; besides they wanted the meat. It made me vaguely uneasy. I had no intention of shooting the elephant—I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary—and it is always unnerving to have a crowd following you.

I marched down the hill, looking and feeling a fool, with the rifle over my shoulder and an ever-growing army of people jostling at my heels. At the bottom, when you got away from the huts, there was a metalled road and beyond that a miry waste of paddy fields a thousand yards across, not yet ploughed but soggy from the first rains and dotted with coarse grass.

The elephant was standing eight yards from the road, his left side towards us. He took not the slightest notice of the crowd's approach. He was tearing up bunches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuffing them into his mouth. I had halted on the road. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant—it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery—and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided.

And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his attack of "must" was already passing off; in which case he would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came back and caught him. Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him.

I decided that I would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home. But at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a long distance on either side.

I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes-faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.

And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd—seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind.

I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the "natives," and so in every crisis he has got to do what the "natives" expect of him.

He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle. A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things.

To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing—no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at. But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have.

It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to. Somehow it always seems worse to kill a large animal. Besides, there was the beast's owner to be considered.

Alive, the elephant was worth at least a hundred pounds; dead, he would only be worth the value of his tusks, five pounds, possibly. But I had got to act quickly. I turned to some experienced-looking Burmans who had been there when we arrived, and asked them how the elephant had been behaving.

They all said the same thing: he took no notice of you if you left him alone, but he might charge if you went too close to him. It was perfectly clear to me what I ought to do. I ought to walk up to within, say, twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behavior.

If he charged, I could shoot; if he took no notice of me, it would be safe to leave him until the mahout came back. But also I knew that I was going to do no such thing. I was a poor shot with a rifle and the ground was soft mud into which one would sink at every step. If the elephant charged and I missed him, I should have about as much chance as a toad under a steam-roller.

But even then I was not thinking particularly of my own skin, only of the watchful yellow faces behind. For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A white man mustn't be frightened in front of "natives"; and so, in general, he isn't frightened. The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see me pursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up the hill.

And if that happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never do. There was only one alternative. I shoved the cartridges into the magazine and lay down on the road to get a better aim. The crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of people who see the theatre curtain go up at last, breathed from innumerable throats. They were going to have their bit of fun after all.

The rifle was a beautiful German thing with cross-hair sights. I did not then know that in shooting an elephant one would shoot to cut an imaginary bar running from ear-hole to ear-hole. I ought, therefore, as the elephant was sideways on, to have aimed straight at his ear-hole, actually I aimed several inches in front of this, thinking the brain would be further forward.

When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick—one never does when a shot goes home—but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered.

He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralysed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time—it might have been five seconds, I dare say—he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have imagined him thousands of years old.

I fired again into the same spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upward like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree.

He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even where I lay. I got up. The Burmans were already racing past me across the mud. It was obvious that the elephant would never rise again, but he was not dead. He was breathing very rhythmically with long rattling gasps, his great mound of a side painfully rising and falling.

His mouth was wide open—I could see far down into caverns of pale pink throat. I waited a long time for him to die, but his breathing did not weaken. Finally I fired my two remaining shots into the spot where I thought his heart must be. The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet, but still he did not die. His body did not even jerk when the shots hit him, the tortured breathing continued without a pause.

He was dying, very slowly and in great agony, but in some world remote from me where not even a bullet could damage him further. I felt that I had got to put an end to that dreadful noise. It seemed dreadful to see the great beast Lying there, powerless to move and yet powerless to die, and not even to be able to finish him. I sent back for my small rifle and poured shot after shot into his heart and down his throat. They seemed to make no impression.

The tortured gasps continued as steadily as the ticking of a clock. In the end I could not stand it any longer and went away. I heard later that it took him half an hour to die. Burmans were bringing dahs and baskets even before I left, and I was told they had stripped his body almost to the bones by the afternoon. Afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing.

Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans opinion was divided. The older men said I was right, the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie.

And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool. Our civilization, pace Chesterton, is founded on coal, more completely than one realizes until one stops to think about it. The machines that keep us alive, and the machines that make machines, are all directly or indirectly dependent upon coal.

In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miner is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the soil. He is a sort of caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.

For this reason the actual process by which coal is extracted is well worth watching, if you get the chance and are willing to take the trouble. When you go down a coal-mine it is important to try and get to the coal face when the 'fillers' are at work. This is not easy, because when the mine is working visitors are a nuisance and are not encouraged, but if you go at any other time, it is possible to come away with a totally wrong impression.

On a Sunday, for instance, a mine seems almost peaceful. The time to go there is when the machines are roaring and the air is black with coal dust, and when you can actually see what the miners have to do. At those times the place is like hell, or at any rate like my own mental picture of hell. Most of the things one imagines in hell are if there—heat, noise, confusion, darkness, foul air, and, above all, unbearably cramped space.

Everything except the fire, for there is no fire down there except the feeble beams of Davy lamps and electric torches which scarcely penetrate the clouds of coal dust. When you have finally got there—and getting there is a in itself: I will explain that in a moment—you crawl through the last line of pit props and see opposite you a shiny black wall three or four feet high. This is the coal face. Overhead is the smooth ceiling made by the rock from which the coal has been cut; underneath is the rock again, so that the gallery you are in is only as high as the ledge of coal itself, probably not much more than a yard.

The first impression of all, overmastering everything else for a while, is the frightful, deafening din from the conveyor belt which carries the coal away. You cannot see very far, because the fog of coal dust throws back the beam of your lamp, but you can see on either side of you the line of half-naked kneeling men, one to every four or five yards, driving their shovels under the fallen coal and flinging it swiftly over their left shoulders.

They are feeding it on to the conveyor belt, a moving rubber, belt a couple of feet wide which runs a yard or two behind them. Down this belt a glittering river of coal races constantly. In a big mine it is carrying away several tons of coal every minute. It bears it off to some place in the main roads where it is shot into tubs holding half a tun, and thence dragged to the cages and hoisted to the outer air. It is impossible to watch the 'fillers' at work without feeling a pang of envy for their toughness.

It is a dreadful job that they do, an almost superhuman job by the standard of an ordinary person. For they are not only shifting monstrous quantities of coal, they are also doing, it in a position that doubles or trebles the work. They have got to remain kneeling all the while—they could hardly rise from their knees without hitting the ceiling—and you can easily see by trying it what a tremendous effort this means.

Shovelling is comparatively easy when you are standing up, because you can use your knee and thigh to drive the shovel along; kneeling down, the whole of the strain is thrown upon your arm and belly muscles. And the other conditions do not exactly make things easier. There is the heat—it varies, but in some mines it is suffocating—and the coal dust that stuffs up your throat and nostrils and collects along your eyelids, and the unending rattle of the conveyor belt, which in that confined space is rather like the rattle of a machine gun.

But the fillers look and work as though they were made of iron. They really do look like iron hammered iron statues—under the smooth coat of coal dust which clings to them from head to foot. It is only when you see miners down the mine and naked that you realize what splendid men, they are.

Most of them are small big men are at a disadvantage in that job but nearly all of them have the most noble bodies; wide shoulders tapering to slender supple waists, and small pronounced buttocks and sinewy thighs, with not an ounce of waste flesh anywhere. In the hotter mines they wear only a pair of thin drawers, clogs and knee-pads; in the hottest mines of all, only the clogs and knee-pads.

You can hardly tell by the look of them whether they are young or old. They may be any age up to sixty or even sixty-five, but when they are black and naked they all look alike. No one could do their work who had not a young man's body, and a figure fit for a guardsman at that, just a few pounds of extra flesh on the waist-line, and the constant bending would be impossible. You can never forget that spectacle once you have seen it—the line of bowed, kneeling figures, sooty black all over, driving their, huge shovels under the coal with stupendous force and speed.

They are on the job for seven and a half hours, theoretically without a break, for there is no time 'off'. Actually they, snatch a quarter of an hour or so at some time during the shift to eat the food they have brought with them, usually a hunk of bread and dripping and a bottle of cold tea. The first time I was watching the 'fillers' at work I put my hand upon some dreadful slimy thing among the coal dust.

It was a chewed quid of tobacco. Nearly all the miners chew tobacco, which is said to be good against thirst. Probably you have to go down several coal-mines before you can get much grasp of the processes that are going on round you. This is chiefly because the mere effort of getting from place to place; makes it difficult to notice anything else, In some ways it is even disappointing, or at least is unlike what you have, expected.

You get into the cage, which is a steel box about as wide as a telephone box and two or three times as long. It holds ten men, but they pack it like pilchards in a tin, and a tall man cannot stand upright in it. The steel door shuts upon you, and somebody working the winding gear above drops you into the void.

You have the usual momentary qualm in your belly and a bursting sensation in the cars, but not much sensation of movement till you get near the bottom, when the cage slows down so abruptly that you could swear it is going upwards again. In the middle of the run the cage probably touches sixty miles an hour; in some of the deeper mines it touches even more. When you crawl out at the bottom you are perhaps four hundred yards underground. That is to say you have a tolerable-sized mountain on top of you; hundreds of yards of solid rock, bones of extinct beasts, subsoil, flints, roots of growing things, green grass and cows grazing on it—all this suspended over your head and held back only by wooden props as thick as the calf of your leg.

But because of the speed at which the cage has brought you down, and the complete blackness through which you have travelled, you hardly feel yourself deeper down than you would at the bottom of the Piccadilly tube. What is surprising, on the other hand, is the immense horizontal distances that have to be travelled underground. Before I had been down a mine I had vaguely imagined the miner stepping out of the cage and getting to work on a ledge of coal a few yards away.

I had not realized that before he even gets to work he may have had to creep along passages as long as from London Bridge to Oxford Circus. In the beginning, of course, a mine shaft is sunk somewhere near a seam of coal; But as that seam is worked out and fresh seams are followed up, the workings get further and further from the pit bottom.

If it is a mile from the pit bottom to the coal face, that is probably an average distance; three miles is a fairly normal one; there are even said to be a few mines where it is as much as five miles. But these distances bear no relation to distances above ground. For in all that mile or three miles as it may be, there is hardly anywhere outside the main road, and not many places even there, where a man can stand upright.

You do not notice the effect of this till you have gone a few hundred yards. You start off, stooping slightly, down the dim-lit gallery, eight or ten feet wide and about five high, with the walls built up with slabs of shale, like the stone walls in Derbyshire.

Every yard or two there are wooden props holding up the beams and girders; some of the girders have buckled into fantastic curves under which you have to duck. Usually it is bad going underfoot—thick dust or jagged chunks of shale, and in some mines where there is water it is as mucky as a farm-yard.

Also there is the track for the coal tubs, like a miniature railway track with sleepers a foot or two apart, which is tiresome to walk on. Everything is grey with shale dust; there is a dusty fiery smell which seems to be the same in all mines. You see mysterious machines of which you never learn the purpose, and bundles of tools slung together on wires, and sometimes mice darting away from the beam of the lamps.

They are surprisingly common, especially in mines where there are or have been horses. It would be interesting to know how they got there in the first place; possibly by falling down the shaft—for they say a mouse can fall any distance uninjured, owing to its surface area being so large relative to its weight.

You press yourself against the wall to make way for lines of tubs jolting slowly towards the shaft, drawn by an endless steel cable operated from the surface. You creep through sacking curtains and thick wooden doors which, when they are opened, let out fierce blasts of air. These doors are an important part of the ventilation system. The exhausted air is sucked out of one shaft by means of fans, and the fresh air enters the other of its own accord.

But if left to itself the air will take the shortest way round, leaving the deeper workings unventilated; so all the short cuts have to be partitioned off. At the start to walk stooping is rather a joke, but it is a joke that soon wears off. I am handicapped by being exceptionally tall, but when the roof falls to four feet or less it is a tough job for anybody except a dwarf or a child.

You not only have to bend double, you have also got to keep your head up all the while so as to see the beams and girders and dodge them when they come. You have, therefore, a constant crick in the neck, but this is nothing to the pain in your knees and thighs.

After half a mile it becomes I am not exaggerating an unbearable agony. You begin to wonder whether you will ever get to the end—still more, how on earth you are going to get back. Your pace grows slower and slower.

You come to a stretch of a couple of hundred yards where it is all exceptionally low and you have to work yourself along in a squatting position. Then suddenly the roof opens out to a mysterious height—scene of and old fall of rock, probably—and for twenty whole yards you can stand upright. The relief is overwhelming. But after this there is another low stretch of a hundred yards and then a succession of beams which you have to crawl under. You go down on all fours; even this is a relief after the squatting business.

But when you come to the end of the beams and try to get up again, you find that your knees have temporarily struck work and refuse to lift you. You call a halt, ignominiously, and say that you would like to rest for a minute or two. Your guide a miner is sympathetic. He knows that your muscles are not the same as his. But finally you do somehow creep as far as the coal face.

You have gone a mile and taken the best part of an hour; a miner would do it in not much more than twenty minutes. Having got there, you have to sprawl in the coal dust and get your strength back for several minutes before you can even watch the work in progress with any kind of intelligence.

Coming back is worse than going, not only because you are already tired out but because the journey back to the shaft is slightly uphill. You get through the low places at the speed of a tortoise, and you have no shame now about calling a halt when your knees give way. Even the lamp you are carrying becomes a nuisance and probably when you stumble you drop it; whereupon, if it is a Davy lamp, it goes out.

Ducking the beams becomes more and more of an effort, and sometimes you forget to duck. You try walking head down as the miners do, and then you bang your backbone. Even the miners bang their backbones fairly often. This is the reason why in very hot mines, where it is necessary to go about half naked, most of the miners have what they call 'buttons down the back'—that is, a permanent scab on each vertebra.

When the track is down hill the miners sometimes fit their clogs, which are hollow under-neath, on to the trolley rails and slide down. In mines where the 'travelling' is very bad all the miners carry sticks about two and a half feet long, hollowed out below the handle. In normal places you keep your hand on top of the stick and in the low places you slide your hand down into the hollow. These sticks are a great help, and the wooden crash-helmets—a comparatively recent invention—are a godsend.

They look like a French or Italian steel helmet, but they are made of some kind of pith and very light, and so strong, that you can take a violent blow on the head without feeling it. When finally you get back to the surface you have been perhaps three hours underground and travelled two miles, and you, are more exhausted than you would be by a twenty-five-mile walk above ground. For a week afterwards your thighs are so stiff that coming downstairs is quite a difficult feat; you have to work your way down in a peculiar sidelong manner, without bending the knees.

Your miner friends notice the stiffness of your walk and chaff you about it. Yet even a miner who has been long away front work—from illness, for instance—when he comes back to the pit, suffers badly for the first few days. It may seem that I am exaggerating, though no one who has been down an old-fashioned pit most of the pits in England are old-fashioned and actually gone as far as the coal face, is likely to say so.

But what I want to emphasize is this. Here is this frightful business of crawling to and fro, which to any normal person is a hard day's work in itself; and it is not part of the miner's work at all, it is merely an extra, like the City man's daily ride in the Tube. The miner does that journey to and fro, and sandwiched in between there are seven and a half hours of savage work. I have never travelled much more than a mile to the coal face; but often it is three miles, in which case I and most people other than coal-miners would never get there at all.

This is the kind of point that one is always liable to miss. When you think of the coal-mine you think of depth, heat, darkness, blackened figures hacking at walls of coal; you don't think, necessarily, of those miles of creeping to and fro. There is the question of time, also. A miner's working shift of seven and a half hours does not sound very long, but one has got to add on to it at least an hour a day for 'travelling', more often two hours and sometimes three.

Of course, the 'travelling' is not technically work and the miner is not paid for it; but it is as like work as makes no difference. It is easy to say that miners don't mind all this. Certainly, it is not the same for them as it would be for you or me. They have done it since childhood, they have the right muscles hardened, and they can move to and fro underground with a startling and rather horrible agility. A miner puts his head down and runs, with a long swinging stride, through places where I can only stagger.

At the workings you see them on all fours, skipping round the pit props almost like dogs. But it is quite a mistake to think that they enjoy it. I have talked about this to scores of miners and they all admit that the 'travelling' is hard work; in any case when you hear them discussing a pit among themselves the 'travelling' is always one of the things they discuss.

It is said that a shift always returns from work faster than it goes; nevertheless the miners all say that it is the coming away after a hard day's work, that is especially irksome. It is part of their work and they are equal to it, but certainly it is an effort. It is comparable, perhaps, to climbing a smallish mountain before and after your day's work.

When you have been down in two or three pits you begin to get some grasp of the processes that are going on underground. I ought to say, by the way, that I know nothing whatever about the technical side of mining: I am merely describing what I have seen. Coal lies in thin seams between enormous layers of rock, so that essentially the process of getting it out is like scooping the central layer from a Neapolitan ice.

In the old days the miners used to cut straight into the coal with pick and crowbar—a very slow job because coal, when lying in its virgin state, is almost as hard as rock. Nowadays the preliminary work is done by an electrically-driven coal-cutter, which in principle is an immensely tough and powerful band-saw, running horizontally instead of vertically, with teeth a couple of inches long and half an inch or an inch thick.

It can move backwards or forwards on its own power, and the men operating it can rotate it this way or that. Incidentally it makes one of the most awful noises I have ever heard, and sends forth clouds of coal dust which make it impossible to see more than two to three feet and almost impossible to breathe.

The machine travels along the coal face cutting into the base of the coal and undermining it to the depth of five feet or five feet and a half; after this it is comparatively easy to extract the coal to the depth to which it has been undermined. Where it is 'difficult getting', however, it has also to be loosened with explosives.

A man with an electric drill, like a rather small version of the drills used in street-mending, bores holes at intervals in the coal, inserts blasting powder, plugs it with clay, goes round the corner if there is one handy he is supposed to retire to twenty-five yards distance and touches off the charge with an electric current. This is not intended to bring the coal out, only to loosen it.

Occasionally, of course, the charge is too powerful, and then it not only brings the coal out but brings the roof down as well. After the blasting has been done the 'fillers' can tumble the coal out, break it up and shovel it on to the conveyor belt. It comes out first in monstrous boulders which may weigh anything up to twenty tons. The conveyor belt shoots it on to tubs, and the tubs are shoved into the main road and hitched on to an endlessly revolving steel cable which drags them to the cage.

Then they are hoisted, and at the surface the coal is sorted by being run over screens, and if necessary is washed as well. As far as possible the 'dirt'—the shale, that is—is used for making the roads below. All what cannot be used is sent to the surface and dumped; hence the monstrous 'dirt-heaps', like hideous grey mountains, which are the characteristic scenery of the coal areas. When the coal has been extracted to the depth to which the machine has cut, the coal face has advanced by five feet.

Fresh props are put in to hold up the newly exposed roof, and during the next shift the conveyor belt is taken to pieces, moved five feet forward and re-assembled. As far as possible the three operations of cutting, blasting and extraction are done in three separate shifts, the cutting in the afternoon, the blasting at night there is a law, not always kept, that forbids its being done when other men are working near by , and the 'filling' in the morning shift, which lasts from six in the morning until half past one.

Even when you watch the process of coal-extraction you probably only watch it for a short time, and it is not until you begin making a few calculations that you realize what a stupendous task the 'fillers' are performing. Normally each o man has to clear a space four or five yards wide. The cutter has undermined the coal to the depth of five feet, so that if the seam of coal is three or four feet high, each man has to cut out, break up and load on to the belt something between seven and twelve cubic yards of coal.

This is to say, taking a cubic yard as weighing twenty-seven hundred-weight, that each man is shifting coal at a speed approaching two tons an hour. I have just enough experience of pick and shovel work to be able to grasp what this means. When I am digging trenches in my garden, if I shift two tons of earth during the afternoon, I feel that I have earned my tea.

But earth is tractable stuff compared with coal, and I don't have to work kneeling down, a thousand feet underground, in suffocating heat and swallowing coal dust with every breath I take; nor do I have to walk a mile bent double before I begin. The miner's job would be as much beyond my power as it would be to perform on a flying trapeze or to win the Grand National. I am not a manual labourer and please God I never shall be one, but there are some kinds of manual work that I could do if I had to.

At a pitch I could be a tolerable road-sweeper or an inefficient gardener or even a tenth-rate farm hand. But by no conceivable amount of effort or training could I become a coal-miner, the work would kill me in a few weeks. Watching coal-miners at work, you realize momentarily what different universes people inhabit.

Down there where coal is dug is a sort of world apart which one can quite easily go through life without ever hearing about. Probably majority of people would even prefer not to hear about it. Yet it is the absolutely necessary counterpart of our world above. Practically everything we do, from eating an ice to crossing the Atlantic, and from baking a loaf to writing a novel, involves the use of coal, directly or indirectly.

For all the arts of peace coal is needed; if war breaks out it is needed all the more. In time of revolution the miner must go on working or the revolution must stop, for revolution as much as reaction needs coal. Whatever may be happening on the surface, the hacking and shovelling have got to continue without a pause, or at any rate without pausing for more than a few weeks at the most. In order that Hitler may march the goose-step, that the Pope may denounce Bolshevism, that the cricket crowds may assemble at Lords, that the poets may scratch one another's backs, coal has got to be forthcoming.

But on the whole we are not aware of it; we all know that we 'must have coal', but we seldom or never remember what coal-getting involves. Here am I sitting writing in front of my comfortable coal fire. It is April but I still need a fire. Once a fortnight the coal cart drives up to the door and men in leather jerkins carry the coal indoors in stout sacks smelling of tar and shoot it clanking into the coal-hole under the stairs.

It is only very rarely, when I make a definite mental-effort, that I connect this coal with that far-off labour in the mines. It is just 'coal'—something that I have got to have; black stuff that arrives mysteriously from nowhere in particular, like manna except that you have to pay for it. You could quite easily drive a car right across the north of England and never once remember that hundreds of feet below the road you are on the miners are hacking at the coal.

Yet in a sense it is the miners who are driving your car forward. Their lamp-lit world down there is as necessary to the daylight world above as the root is to the flower. It is not long since conditions in the mines were worse than they are now. There are still living a few very old women who in their youth have worked underground, with the harness round their waists, and a chain that passed between their legs, crawling on all fours and dragging tubs of coal.

They used to go on doing this even when they were pregnant. And even now, if coal could not be produced without pregnant women dragging it to and fro, I fancy we should let them do it rather than deprive ourselves of coal. But-most of the time, of course, we should prefer to forget that they were doing it. It is so with all types of manual work; it keeps us alive, and we are oblivious of its existence. More than anyone else, perhaps, the miner can stand as the type of the manual worker, not only because his work is so exaggeratedly awful, but also because it is so vitally necessary and yet so remote from our experience, so invisible, as it were, that we are capable of forgetting it as we forget the blood in our veins.

In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an 'intellectual' and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior.

You and I and the editor of the Times Lit. As you travel northward your eye, accustomed to the South or East, does not notice much difference until you are beyond Birmingham. In Coventry you might as well be in Finsbury Park, and the Bull Ring in Birmingham is not unlike Norwich Market, and between all the towns of the Midlands there stretches a villa-civilization indistinguishable from that of the South. It is only when you get a little further north, to the pottery towns and beyond, that you begin to encounter the real ugliness of industrialism—an ugliness so frightful and so arresting that you are obliged, as it were, to come to terms with it.

A slag-heap is at best a hideous thing, because it is so planless and functionless. It is something just dumped on the earth, like the emptying of a giant's dust-bin. On the outskirts of the mining towns there are frightful landscapes where your horizon is ringed completely round by jagged grey mountains, and underfoot is mud and ashes and over-head the steel cables where tubs of dirt travel slowly across miles of country.

Often the slag-heaps are on fire, and at night you can see the red rivulets of fire winding this way and that, and also the slow-moving blue flames of sulphur, which always seem on the point of expiring and always spring out again.

Even when a slag-heap sinks, as it does ultimately, only an evil brown grass grows on it, and it retains its hummocky surface. One in the slums of Wigan, used as a playground, looks like a choppy sea suddenly frozen; 'the flock mattress', it is called locally. Even centuries hence when the plough drives over the places where coal was once mined, the sites of ancient slag-heaps will still be distinguishable from an aeroplane. I remember a winter afternoon in the dreadful environs of Wigan.

All round was the lunar landscape of slag-heaps, and to the north, through the passes, as it were, between the mountains of slag, you could see the factory chimneys sending out their plumes of smoke. The canal path was a mixture of cinders and frozen mud, criss-crossed by the imprints of innumerable clogs, and all round, as far as the slag-heaps in the distance, stretched the 'flashes'—pools of stagnant water that had seeped into the hollows caused by the subsidence of ancient pits.

It was horribly cold. The 'flashes' were covered with ice the colour of raw umber, the bargemen were muffled to the eyes in sacks, the lock gates wore beards of ice. It seemed a world from which vegetation had been banished; nothing existed except smoke, shale, ice, mud, ashes, and foul water. But even Wigan is beautiful compared with Sheffield. Sheffield, I suppose, could justly claim to be called the ugliest town in the Old World: its inhabitants, who want it to be pre-eminent in everything, very likely do make that claim for it.

It has a population of half a million and it contains fewer decent buildings than the average East Anglian village of five hundred. And the stench! If at rare moments you stop smelling sulphur it is because you have begun smelling gas. Even the shallow river that runs through the town is-usually bright yellow with some chemical or other. Once I halted in the street and counted the factory chimneys I could see; there were thirty-three of them, but there would have been far more if the air had not been obscured by smoke.

One scene especially lingers in my mind. A frightful patch of waste ground somehow, up there, a patch of waste ground attains a squalor that would be impossible even in London trampled bare of grass and littered with newspapers and old saucepans.

To the right an isolated row of gaunt four-roomed houses, dark red, blackened by smoke. To the left an interminable vista of factory chimneys, chimney beyond chimney, fading away into a dim blackish haze. Behind me a railway embankment made of the slag from furnaces. In front, across the patch of waste ground, a cubical building of red and yellow brick, with the sign 'Thomas Grocock, Haulage Contractor'.

At night, when you cannot see the hideous shapes of the houses and the blackness of everything, a town like Sheffield assumes a kind of sinister magnificence. Sometimes the drifts of smoke are rosy with sulphur, and serrated flames, like circular saws, squeeze themselves out from beneath the cowls of the foundry chimneys.

Through the open doors of foundries you see fiery serpents of iron being hauled to and fro by redlit boys, and you hear the whizz and thump of steam hammers and the scream of the iron under the blow. The pottery towns are almost equally ugly in a pettier way. Right in among the rows of tiny blackened houses, part of the street as it were, are the 'pot banks'—conical brick chimneys like gigantic burgundy bottles buried in the soil and belching their smoke almost in your face.

You come upon monstrous clay chasms hundreds of feet across and almost as deep, with little rusty tubs creeping on chain railways up one side, and on the other workmen clinging like samphire-gatherers and cutting into the face of the cliff with their picks. I passed that way in snowy weather, and even the snow was black. The best thing one can say for the pottery towns is that they are fairly small and stop abruptly.

Less than ten miles away you can stand in un-defiled country, on the almost naked hills, and the pottery towns are only a smudge in the distance. When you contemplate such ugliness as this, there are two questions that strike you. First, is it inevitable?

Secondly, does it matter? I do not believe that there is anything inherently and unavoidably ugly about industrialism. A factory or even a gasworks is not obliged of its own nature to be ugly, any more than a palace or a dog-kennel or a cathedral.

It all depends on the architectural tradition of the period. The industrial towns of the North are ugly because they happen to have been built at a time when modern methods of steel-construction and smoke-abatement were unknown, and when everyone was too busy making money to think about anything else. They go on being ugly largely because the Northerners have got used to that kind of thing and do not notice it. Many of the people in Sheffield or Manchester, if they smelled the air along the Cornish cliffs, would probably declare that it had no taste in it.

But since the war, industry has tended to shift southward and in doing so has grown almost comely. The typical post-war factory is not a gaunt barrack or an awful chaos of blackness and belching chimneys; it is a glittering white structure of concrete, glass, and steel, surrounded by green lawns and beds of tulips. Look at the factories you pass as you travel out of London on the G. But in any case, though the ugliness of industrialism is the most obvious thing about it and the thing every newcomer exclaims against, I doubt whether it is centrally important.

And perhaps it is not even desirable, industrialism being what it is, that it should learn to disguise itself as something else. Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Essays by George Orwell. Essays by George Orwell. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published by Everyman's Library first published More Details Original Title.

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View all 7 comments. A pity we can't have his view of so many current issues today. He would be cancelled, no doubt 3 quarters of the book I was not interested in them, but even for one quarter it was worth the time. He would be cancelled, no doubt Amie Doan rated it it was amazing Jul 14, Dancho rated it it was amazing May 25, Michael Sparrow rated it it was amazing Nov 18, Sam Josh rated it it was amazing Sep 12, Haoyan Do rated it it was amazing Mar 06, Kai rated it it was amazing Jul 23, Christopher Chiron rated it it was amazing Jan 03, Nessie Arya marked it as to-read Jul 24, Anastassia marked it as to-read Jul 26, Missdune marked it as to-read Aug 16, Noel Latsha added it Aug 25, Edc marked it as to-read Aug 26, Alex Draper added it Aug 26, Sprite marked it as to-read Sep 09, Rob marked it as to-read Sep 16, Lewis Farnan-Jones marked it as to-read Sep 23, Dan is currently reading it Oct 11, Paul Lougheed added it Oct 13, Daniel Myers marked it as to-read Jan 11,

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Start your review of Essays. Mar 28, Arupratan rated it it was amazing Shelves: favourites. View all 7 comments. A pity we can't have his view of so many current issues today. He would be cancelled, no doubt 3 quarters of the book I was not interested in them, but even for one quarter it was worth the time. He would be cancelled, no doubt Amie Doan rated it it was amazing Jul 14, Dancho rated it it was amazing May 25, Michael Sparrow rated it it was amazing Nov 18, Sam Josh rated it it was amazing Sep 12, Haoyan Do rated it it was amazing Mar 06, Kai rated it it was amazing Jul 23, Christopher Chiron rated it it was amazing Jan 03, Nessie Arya marked it as to-read Jul 24, Anastassia marked it as to-read Jul 26, Missdune marked it as to-read Aug 16, Noel Latsha added it Aug 25, Edc marked it as to-read Aug 26, Alex Draper added it Aug 26, Sprite marked it as to-read Sep 09, Rob marked it as to-read Sep 16, Lewis Farnan-Jones marked it as to-read Sep 23, Dan is currently reading it Oct 11, Paul Lougheed added it Oct 13, Daniel Myers marked it as to-read Jan 11, Roeliox is currently reading it Feb 06, Drew is currently reading it Feb 23, Bogdan is currently reading it Mar 02, Brown Page marked it as to-read Mar 27, Saumen marked it as to-read Mar 28, Rnmridha marked it as to-read Mar 28, Ashkin Ayub marked it as to-read Mar 28, S M Mehrab marked it as to-read Mar 28, Nadia Jasmine marked it as to-read Mar 28, Farhana Jahan marked it as to-read Mar 28, Farhana marked it as to-read Mar 28, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Be the first to start one ». Readers also enjoyed. About George Orwell. George Orwell. Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell , was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell , was an English author and journalist. In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma from and fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War from Orwell was severely wounded when he was shot through his throat.

Orwell and his wife were accused of "rabid Trotskyism" and tried in absentia in Barcelona, along with other leaders of the POUM, in However by then they had escaped from Spain and returned to England. Absolutely rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction , essays , memoirs. It covers a wide range of topics from his childhood, Spanish Civil War, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Jewish religion, politics, etc to his shooting of an elephant while serving as a police in Burma.

Perfectly-written in his trademark direct, clear and taut writing the style that I first encountered in his political satirical sci-fi and political fable Animal Farm. The only difference is that these are non-fiction.

The essays made me understand what kind of a man George Orwell was: a lover of equality, justice and free will. Such, Such Were the Joys 5 stars - Amazing! He only afforded to go to that school because he was a bright boy. The school kept him because he had a good chance of passing entrance exams in the prestigious universities later and that would help maintaining the image of the school.

The one part that I found so sad was that the little George did not have a cake year after year during his stay at that school because his parents could not afford it and this was just one of the ways for a poor but bright pupil could be discriminated.

Charles Dickens 5 stars -Amazing! David Copperfield and A Tale of the Two Cities are my two novels that I first read when I was in a fresh college graduate in the mids. In this essay, Orwell analyzes the works of Dickens in a way that is very easy to understand and will help you appreciate Dickens as a writer. Orwell said that Dickens is a moralist: he wanted to correct the wrongs that are perpetuated by either those in power or those who were rich in England during his time.

However, there are a couple of his works that do not belong to this so-called social propagandist drama and they are A Tale of the Two Cities and Hard Times. Orwell just made me want to line up next all the other books by Dickens that are in my to-be-read tbr file. Prior to this, I did not know that Britons would love daily comic strips in a way that I and my friends used to read Baltic and Co. Rudyard Kipling 4 stars - I really liked it! Orwell gave his view on T. Kipling is a jingo imperialist, he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.

Considering that they were both Englishmen and highly esteemed classic novelists. Raffles and Miss Blandish 4 stars - I really liked it! Detailed comparison between a mystery book, No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase and the book that Orwell said to be the book that inspired it, Raffles.

I have been looking for a copy of this Miss Blandish book. What Orwell basically gave the plot of the story about a girl who was raped for a long period of time and she fell in love with her rapist but I did not take it as a spoiler. Rather, he made me want to order the book via Amazon so I can read it right away.

Well, maybe in my next Amazon horde! Shooting the Elephant 5 stars - Amazing! Very short yet I guess this is the best essay in the book. He hated his job because he feels that the Burmese people do not like English people as they are the colonizers, i. In this particular essay, there is a runaway elephant that has killed a native. Being a policeman, Orwell is asked to kill the elephant. I will not tell you the rest as it is too much of a spoiler. If you have no time to read the whole book, just read this while standing in the bookstore.

I assure you that it will be worth the time and the pressure on your legs. You will get a glimpse — a good glimpse — of what kind of man the young Orwell was that probably drove him to write his books that are said to be anti-totalitarianism. Politics and the English Language 4 stars - I really liked it! Orwell criticizing the way school professors expressed themselves in written form.

He said that the decline of the English language is brought about by the foolish thoughts of the writers. These thoughts were made possible because of the slovenliness of the English language. Hence, the situation was similar to a man drinking because he feels himself to be a failure and he becomes a complete failure because he drinks.

He gamely offered these pieces of advice for writers: i Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Reflections of Gandhi 4 stars - I really liked it! Orwell hailed Gandhi and his non-violence but he emphasized that the old man did not do anything without personal ambitions. Marrakech 3 stars - I liked it!

Before Hitler rose in power in , Jewish jokes were common in Europe. This explained he negative Jewish references that turned me off when I read my first book by Orwell a couple of years back: Down and Out in Paris and London. Now I know better. The Jews have that distinctive look that was also intimated by Howard Jacobson in his Booker-award winning book, The Finkler Question that was my first book read this year but they are cunning as they are gutsy in business and fond of money-lending with interest.

Well, that was according to Orwell. Looking Back on the Spanish War 3 stars - I liked it! The resistance of the working class against Franco. British, France and Russia sided with the urban trade union members while the Nazis Italy and Germany sided with Franco.

However, Orwell questioned the intent of Russia in the war. This should have been an interesting essay but I found that war to have of little impact on me compared to WWII in the Pacific. All I know is that American novelists like Hemingway or Cummings volunteered during this period as ambulance drivers. This was because there was the Great Depression in the States so job was scarce. Inside the Whale 5 stars - Amazing! This is about the feeling of claustrophobia that must have been similar to what the prophet Jonas felt while inside the whale.

The international foci of the of the world were Rome, Moscow, and Berlin. It did not seem to be a moment at which a novel of outstanding value was likely to be written about American dead-beats edging drinks in the Latin Quarter France. Of course a novelist is not obliged to write directly about contemporary history, but a novelist who simply disregards the major public events of the moment is generally either a footler or a plain idiot.

Nevertheless after a lapse of time, the atmosphere of the book, besides innumerable details, seemed to linger in my memory in a peculiar way. The books that do this are not necessarily good books, they maybe good bad books like Raffles or the Sherlock Holmes stories, or perverse and morbid books like Wuthering Heights or The House of the Green Shutters … Read him Miller for five pages, ten pages, and you feel the peculiar relief that comes not so much from understanding as from being understood.

An essay that he wrote while Nazi airplanes were flying on the British skies dropping bombs. Orwell sold newspaper dailies when he was a young boy and this essay includes his analysis of the dailies during his time. However, I also sold newspapers in the province when I was a young boy. Why I Write 5 stars - Amazing! From the tender age of 5 or 6, Orwell already knew that he wanted to become a writer. He was the only boy in the family of 4 that includes his mother and two sisters , older and younger.

He was a lonely boy probably because he did grow up with a father and he found comfort in books: reading stories and novels and and writing poetry. He gave the following as motivations the drive writers to write: 1 Sheer egoism 2 Esthetic enthusiasm 3 Historical impulse 4 Political purpose Orwell did not say it but I think the last one was what drove him to write and Animal Farm. No book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Sorry for the long review. I was just carried away by this book. I did not know that reading essays could be as exciting and enriching as reading works of fiction. View all 7 comments. What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. George Orwell is one of the inescapable writers of the last century.

His d What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. His dystopian novel recently became a surprise best-seller, almost seventy years after its initial publication. That is more than mere survival. It was rather—and I feel somewhat silly saying this—for his writing style. His style can accommodate both the abstract and the concrete, the homely and the refined, the pretentious and the vulgar; his prose can satisfy both the academic and the artist, the intellectual and the layperson, the Panurge and the parish priest.

It is unmistakably modern, even sleek, while obviously informed by the tastes and standards of the past. It is fiery, angry, and political, while remaining intimate, human, and honest. There are two sides of the man, sometimes in harmony, and sometimes at odds: the writer and the activist. Orwell the writer is captivated by the rhythms of words, the sounds of sentences; he loves ruminating on a strange personality or a memorable story; he is enchanted by the details of daily life.

Orwell the activist is outraged at injustice and uncompromising in his moral sense; he sees people as a collection of allies and enemies, taking part in a grand struggle to bring about a better society, or a worse one. It was his firsthand experience of imperialism, poverty, and fascism that activated his political conscience. In his brilliant essay on Dickens, for example, he spends page after page trying to analyze Dickens as a kind of social philosopher, examining Dickens's views on work, on the state, on education, and so on.

It is only in the last section, where Orwell drops this pretense and treats Dickens as a novelist, that the essay becomes deeply insightful. Indeed, it soon becomes clear—it seems clear to me, at least—that Orwell likes Dickens for his writing, and not his activism, however much he may wish to think otherwise. Other essays exhibit this same tension. At least half the time, he is utterly convincing in this.

We owe a tremendous debt to Orwell for this insight. All art may be propaganda, but it is not only propaganda; it is not even primarily so. There needs to be room in criticism, as in life, for the non-political.

We need to be able to enjoy a novelist because of his characters and not his views on the state, a poet for his lines rather than his opinions, a dirty joke or a trashy magazine just because we want a laugh and a break. This may be true; but it is also true that such "non-political" things are necessary to live a full life. Where I most disagree with Orwell is his conviction that the media we consume—magazines, post cards, popular novels, television—nefariously and decisively shape our worldview.

For my part, I suspect that people absorb their opinions more from their community, face-to-face, and then seek out media that corresponds with their pre-existing views: not the reverse. All this is besides the point.

I admire Orwell, for his fierce independence, for his sense of outrage and injustice, for his facility with words, for his attempt to blend art and truth. In other words, I admire both the writer and the activist, and I think his work should be read until judgment day.

View all 4 comments. While best known for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four , Orwell was probably a better essayist than a novelist. Orwell wrote many book reviews as well, most of which serve more as a format for him to express his opinions than as a discussion of the books themselves. Sometimes these are on surprising but intriguing topics, such as Orwell's criticism of Tolstoy's criticism of Shakespeare.

This book is organized chronologically, which makes sense, but unfortunately suffers from the lack of an index. Still, for those who want to go beyond the same essays that are printed in most anthologies, this edition will provide as many Orwell essays as just about anyone could possibly want to read. View all 11 comments. The man was amazingly prescient, at a deep, detailed level. This was one of the best collections of essays I've ever read, probably second only to Freeman Dyson's The Scientist as a Rebel.

Across pages of essays from the vast majority of them coming from , written for a wide gamut of man, this book is such a great old friend. Across pages of essays from the vast majority of them coming from , written for a wide gamut of publications, Orwell manages to repeat himself only a few times usually clearly-relished zingers -- a fine show of editing, as each annoying bit of repetition is found within an essay that simply couldn't have been left out due to other unique, interesting points.

Having read it, I feel far more conversant with the politics of the pre-war years, the Fabian Society-inspired English breed of socialism, the demise of realpolitik as Fascism's yoke was affixed, battled and finally thrown off Orwell is one of the most intelligent, aware and just amazingly foresighted authors of the twentieth century, and this book will find itself a place near my mattress for some time. View 1 comment. Some of these I'd come across in other Orwell books, so only read the essays I hadn't.

What can I say, he was simply a great writer of non-fiction. Whatever the subject, he is always just so interesting to read. He could write about doing the washing up and it would probably be good. Mar 16, Randy rated it really liked it. And granted, there is some seriously anachronistic stuff here. Some real snoozers that are stuck so firmly in time and place that only the most devoted anglophiles or Orwellians would be interested 'The Art of Donald McGill', 'England Your England', 'Boys' Weeklies'.

But the majority of essays are written with terrific clarity and foresight, carried by Orwell's power of observation and knack for capturing insight in pithy, memorable sentences. Indeed, this is probably one the most quotable books I've read in a long while. Some examples: " But unlike Emerson, Orwell retains full command of the essay in form and function as well. Even the most anachornistic essays in this collection are still focused and rooted in finely observed detail. But Orwell's sharpest and most relevant commentary can be found in the essays about the nature of political power, language, and writing 'Shooting an Elephant', 'Politics and the English Language', 'Why I Write'.

In these he articulates the interplay of language and power--the way words can conceal as well as clarify. No surprise that he's thought so deeply about what would be at the heart of his masterpiece. Even the critical pieces on Dickens and Rudyard Kipling offer insights about those authors that I hadn't considered before 'Charles Dickens', in particular, is both savage and enlightening.

Worth reading for the political essays alone and if you're an impatient reader, pick and choose what interests you from the rest. A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other. I cannot recall the name of the author or of the book but I remember very clearly how at the end I admired the skill of Davis as an actor more than I had before reading but admired her as an actual person a good deal less. You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawfo A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other.

You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawford impression , but at the end of this series of essays I think I have a similar reaction to him and his craft. The essays and articles span the last 20 years of his life and include the prose for which he is famous such as his account of taking part in the execution of a rebel in Burma and of the shooting of a rogue elephant down through his accounts of sleeping rough or his being hospitalized in a mediocre hospital in France and then on through his clarion calls for the ending of the inequality and oppression of the state, the hypocrisy and obfuscation of varying Governments' 'doublespeak' and then more lilting and amusing reflections on the power of a nice cup of tea, the draw of the bookshop and the unlikely herald of spring, the toad.

The articles and essays are fascinating and are emminently quotable but I will restrain myself, to a large extent, but the most interesting aspect I found was the way you saw the plots and theories that were to dominate Orwell's fiction and more extended factual work being brought to birth as it were in these shorter reflections. His loathing of hypocrisy, his joining of battle against the forces of totalitarianism wherever they are found, his intense loathing for the lack of principled thought in so much poltical life, his hatred of the mealy mouthed use of words in which meanings and understandings are blurred and warped; all of them weere seen growing and developing.

His flashes of humour and sarcastic wit can be found in the most unexpected of places and his honing in on one little detail to make his point is a regular occurrence. Speaking at one point of the patriotism present in most people in times of conflict he defends this and points it out as natural but then says of England 'It is a family.

It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control A man fighting, always fighting for justice but with a great use of prose to make his point.

At another point, whilst criticizing the hypocrisy of the leftist politicians between the wars, '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' or again of truth and history 'I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonnment of the idea that history could be truthfully written If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'it never happened' - well, it never happened.

This is all fascinating and intriguing but the negative aspect of Orwell lurks in the background. That he had a hard and difficult life is not to be denied, that there was much for him to become embittered about cannot be ignored and recognizing the differences of and 40's mores or outlooks then his pejorative descriptions of 'Jews ', his disgust of homosexuality and his rather dismissive outlook towards women might be understandable even if not welcomed but it is his underlying lack of respect for the 'working class' that is so off-putting.

His feelings that they should have a better standard of living, and there is no doubting his sincerity concerning the need for a radical overhaul and redistribution of wealth and opportunity, does not seem to extend to his actually liking them. He speaks incredibly high-handedly of their grossness and ugliness and stupidity, of course he recognizes the individual strengths of individual examples but, as a group, he is wholly unimpressed.

Maybe this is inevitable as the two sided coin of the chasm between classes in the first half of the 20th Century alongisde Orwell's own miserable persona but it makes for uncomfortable reading. On a lighter side to finish. Orwell was intelligent, clear thinking, insightful and perceptive but he still thought that by the 's there would only be about 13 milion people in the UK View all 14 comments.

I've said it before. I'll say it again. It's Orwell. It's fantastic. I actually read a free Gutenberg version of his 50 essays, but it's much the same as this edition. A few of the essays were too political and only relevant to certain past events. A few were quite boring or about very obscure subjects. Yet the vast majority were absolutely fantastic, topical, relevant for today and incredibly well constructed. Essential reading for Orwell fans.

Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces m I've said it before. Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces might be the way to go. Several of them should be required reading for school students. Dec 21, William2 rated it really liked it Shelves: essays , nonfiction , ce , uk. Selected essays. I thought the essays here on Dickens and Kipling were revelations. About ninety percent of the essays cited by other authors that I have read are included here.

View all 3 comments. This work is a strange collection which brings together short stories that I appreciated, at the beginning of the book with "A hanging" and "How I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political texts. I had enjoyed and The Animal Farm very much, and I wanted to continue my reading of George Orwell, but this book is not the right one, there are some exciting things, but the whole is an uneven patchwork and with parts that do not match.

On the other hand, I found This work is a strange collection which brings together short stories that I appreciated, at the beginning of the book with "A hanging" and "How I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political texts. On the other hand, I found it very interesting to see Orwell's very anarchist and leftist views. View 2 comments. All of them are brilliant. Mar 17, notgettingenough rated it it was amazing Shelves: sociology.

Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure. Good bad books. Essay by George Orwell. First published 2 November Not long ago a publisher commissioned me to write an introduction for a reprint of a novel by Leonard Merrick.

This pu Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure. This publishing house, it appears, is going to reissue a long series of minor and partly-forgotten novels of the twentieth century. It is a valuable service in these bookless days, and I rather envy the person whose job it will be to scout round the threepenny boxes, hunting down copies of his boyhood favourites.

A type of book which we hardly seem to produce in these days, but which flowered with great richness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is what Chesterton called the "good bad book": that is, the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions have perished. Obviously outstanding books in this line are RAFFLES and the Sherlock Holmes stories, which have kept their place when innumerable "problem novels", "human documents" and "terrible indictments" of this or that have fallen into deserved oblivion.

Who has worn better, Conan Doyle or Meredith? Almost in the same class as these I, put R. But apart from thrillers, there were the minor humorous writers of the period. For example, Pett Ridge-but I admit his full-length books no longer seem readable--E. A cut above most of these was Barry Pain. Somewhat later in time there was Peter Blundell, who wrote in the W.

Jacobs vein about Far Eastern seaport towns, and who seems to be rather unaccountably forgotten, in spite of having been praised in print by H. However, all the books I have been speaking of are frankly "escape" literature. They form pleasant patches in one's memory, quiet corners where the mind can browse at odd moments, but they hardly pretend to have anything to do with real life.

There is another kind of good bad book which is more seriously intended, and which tells us, I think, something about the nature of the novel and the reasons for its present decadence. During the last fifty years there has been a whole series of writers--some of them are still writing--whom it is quite impossible to call "good" by any strictly literary standard, but who are natural novelists and who seem to attain sincerity partly because they are not inhibited by good taste.

In this class I put Leonard Merrick himself, W. George, J. Beresford, Ernest Raymond, May Sinclair, and--at a lower level than the others but still essentially similar--A. Most of these have been prolific writers, and their output has naturally varied in quality.

In each of these books the author has been able to identify himself with his imagined characters, to feel with them and invite sympathy on their behalf. They bring out the fact that intellectual refinement can be a disadvantage to a story-teller, as it would be to a music-hall comedian. I think it gains a great deal from the fact that the author only partly grasps the pathetic vulgarity of the people he is writing about, and therefore does not despise them.

Here there is not the same clumsiness, but there is the same ability to take seriously the problems of commonplace people. The greater part of what W. George wrote was shoddy rubbish, but in this particular book, based on the career of Northcliffe, he achieved some memorable and truthful pictures of lower-middle-class London life.

Parts of this book are probably autobiographical, and one of the advantages of good bad writers is their lack of shame in writing autobiography. Exhibitionism and self-pity are the bane of the novelist, and yet if he is too frightened of them his creative gift may suffer. The existence of good bad literature - the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously - is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration.

I imagine that by any test that could be devised, Carlyle would be found to be a more intelligent man than Trollope. Yet Trollope has remained readable and Carlyle has not: with all his cleverness he had not even the wit to write in plain straightforward English.

In novelists, almost as much as in poets, the connection between intelligence and creative power is hard to establish. A good novelist may be a prodigy of self-discipline like Flaubert, or he may be an intellectual sprawl like Dickens. Yet it would be a very heavy labour to read one of these books right through. It is an unintentionally ludicrous book, full of preposterous melodramatic incidents; it is also deeply moving and essentially true; it is hard to say which quality outweighs the other.

How about the frankly escapist writers, the purveyors of thrills and "light" humour? All of these are definitely absurd books, books which one is more inclined to laugh AT than WITH, and which were hardly taken seriously even by their authors; yet they have survived, and will probably continue to do so. All one can say is that, while civilisation remains such that one needs distraction from time to time, "light" literature has its appointed place; also that there is such a thing as sheer skill, or native grace, which may have more survival value than erudition or intellectual power.

There are music-hall songs which are better poems than three-quarters of the stuff that gets into the anthologies: Come where the booze is cheaper, Come where the pots hold more, Come where the boss is a bit of a sport, Come to the pub next door!

Or again: Two lovely black eyes Oh, what a surprise! Only for calling another man wrong, Two lovely black eyes! I would far rather have written either of those than, say, "The Blessed Damozel" or "Love in the Valley". An Orwellian Feast This truly is a feast of writing from a prescient man who claimed to be an atheist yet chose to live a Christ-like existence among the downtrodden, who battled through a life of illness, yet fought and suffered the scars of Fascism and could articulate frightening visions of the dangers of Totalitarianism, images that remain our guideposts to this day.

This collection of 39 essays written in the last 18 years of his life cover a diversity of subjects set in different milieu: fro An Orwellian Feast This truly is a feast of writing from a prescient man who claimed to be an atheist yet chose to live a Christ-like existence among the downtrodden, who battled through a life of illness, yet fought and suffered the scars of Fascism and could articulate frightening visions of the dangers of Totalitarianism, images that remain our guideposts to this day.

This collection of 39 essays written in the last 18 years of his life cover a diversity of subjects set in different milieu: from his colonial sojourn as a policeman in Burma to his peregrinations through workhouse shelters as a tramp, from visiting mines in the impoverished north of England to spending time in a public hospital in France where more people die than recover, from working in bookshops and observing reading tastes of the time to his wartime exploits in the Spanish Civil War and WWII, and his post-war work as a journalist, Orwell exercises his incisive powers of observation and judgment that takes no prisoners.

Just as much as anyone else, he should be prepared to deliver lectures in draughty halls, to chalk pavements, to canvass voters, to distribute leaflets, even to fight in civil wars if it seems necessary. But whatever else he does in the service of his party, he should never write for it. He should make it clear that his writing is a thing apart.

Through this collection of essays, a portrait of Orwell emerges. He followed his father at the age of 19 into the British overseas civil service and witnessed the underbelly of colonialism, resigning his cushy job after five years in Burma. Orwell chose thereafter to mix with the downtrodden even though he could have gone home at the end of the day to a warm bed in middle-class England. His prescience resulted in Animal Farm and , books that ensured him literary immortality.

Upon finishing this collection, I had a sudden thought. I would like to have spent time with this man, despite him dying a few years before I was born. In particular, I would liked to have asked him, given the great literary gifts he was bestowed with, why did he choose the squalor? George Orwell was probably one of the most important social critique of his times.

Being in the army, he traveled the world, became part of a society he was alien to and provided well thought out feedback on various issues. He was outspoken about British imperialism during his trip to India and Burma, criticized willful ignorance of liberals during Spanish war and wrote about writers, artists and their works. His body of work is vast and this one large volume doesn't cover it entirely.

George Orw George Orwell was probably one of the most important social critique of his times. George Orwell as an essayist has more impact as a writer than as a novelist. As an essayist he displays an edge, a harshness towards the British society that doesn't bat an eye at the world that is on fire.

It is a time when there is chaos in Europe and the empire is warring in several parts of geographies. It isn't dissimilar to the world today. His observations is heavily laced with socialism and he isn't one to disagree when asked. There is an unpublished letter that is essentially Orwell telling off a publisher to stop sending him rubbish questionnaire. Wells, D. Lawrence, to name a few. Orwell was incredibly well read and followed world politics closely. Orwell's essay collection gives a glimpse of the world through his eyes.

A fierce social critique, his opinions isn't limited to everyday politics but extends to war elsewhere, literature in different countries and art. This collection shows evolution of a man and how he changes as a person as he faces new challenges in new places and gains new experiences. Must read for any who love to see the world from the point of view of an author who believed that a dystopian future was humanity's legacy.

Oct 31, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in , unexpectedly-terrific. Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation. This collection contains several classic essays -- "Shooting an Elephant", "Politics and the English Language", "Such, Such were the Joys" memories of his schooldays -- as well as amazing pieces on Dickens, Kipling, and the state of literature in the s "Inside the Whale".

Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation. Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write, Orwell is always engaging and writes in clear, crisp prose that most essayists can only aspire to.

I don't have much to add about Orwell, his prescience, his style, etc. I did find something that I confess made me wonder whether Orwell is quite as egalitarian, or as strict about avoiding bad rhetoric, as the people who talk about him now would like him to be.

These lines come from "Inside the Whale," a review of Tropic of Cancer : "In mid-nineteenth-century America men felt themselves free and equal, were free and equal, so far as that is possible outside a society of pure Communism. There was I don't have much to add about Orwell, his prescience, his style, etc.

There was poverty and there were even class-distinctions, but except for the Negroes there was no permanently submerged class. Look at that "except" again. His commitment to his argument—that people, all people, had more of a license to be themselves, back in the old days—brings him this close to trying to make the entire levels-deep institution of American white-on-not-white racism disappear.

It's pretty awkward. The guy who wrote "Politics and the English Language," Mr. Tell It Like It Is, wouldn't have written it, except that he did. It took me 3 months but I finally finished this exceptional collection of essays ranging from complex topics like politics, literature and history to simple matters such as writing, nature and scrutiny of everyday life. Such a society - can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable. Highly recommended.

Nov 07, Salam Almahi rated it really liked it Shelves: resting-on-my-shelf , classics , non-fiction , essays. Okay so, let's get one thing straight: My review is not of this particular book, but I've read a collection of Orwell's essays and didn't know how to mark them. The essays I read are: - Politics and The English Language : It was what intrigued me to read these bunch of essays in the first place. I got the idea that it was what gave birth to the idea of Newspeak the language used in , but upon reading it, it was very different..

More like a critique of changes in writing styles. Orwell was ve Okay so, let's get one thing straight: My review is not of this particular book, but I've read a collection of Orwell's essays and didn't know how to mark them. Orwell was very "bitter? It basically sends the message that: even though the world is crumbling around us, doesn't mean that we can't appreciate the little beautiful things surrounding us.

It made me think of colonization in a deeper way. It was very interesting to see the point of view of someone among the colonizers. So naturally- did not relate. But George Orwell did build a realistic, almost tangible setting and atmosphere. Orwell would've been proud that this thing exists now. But the dilemma of the image of poetry, and its accessibility is still unfortunately, present. In conclusion, I can say with confidence, that I prefer Orwell's nonfiction, over his fiction. A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society.

I read Orwell's essays in college in fact, I may have read some in high school , and have usually carried a volume around with me since. Orwell has been one of the most influential people in the shaping of my own world view. So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political t A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society.

So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political tracts are badly written -- because people actually want to conceal what they are trying to say advocating violence sounds so much better when dressed up in patriotic cliches. In "Shooting an Elephant," Orwell discusses one particular day when he was on the police force in Burma, and what the events of that day taught him about the nature of imperialism.

In "Reflections on Gandhi," Orwell described why he disliked the man. But Orwell says that Gandhi was trying to be a saint, and that saints are different in nature from other people. To be a saint, you must love everyone equally. But to be human means to love some people -- your family, your friends -- more than others. Orwell sees that as the more worthwhile goal. Plus essays on Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Tolstoy's take on King Lear, boy's stories, dirty postcards Orwell loves reading and analyzing everything , his own school days, the Spanish civil war, etc.

All written in clear, accessible prose. Jul 31, Lanko rated it it was amazing Shelves: The most impressive thing of the book was how Orwell himself changed some of his views over time, specially some he was very adamant early on. The book spans essays over decades, and Orwell is really good at giving a clear picture of the situation of the time, but intentionally or not, giving hints of himself as a person. While it's clear Orwell has an obvious preference for an economic system, over time he changed views on some of the things he endorsed early, but better yet, and what gives him The most impressive thing of the book was how Orwell himself changed some of his views over time, specially some he was very adamant early on.

While it's clear Orwell has an obvious preference for an economic system, over time he changed views on some of the things he endorsed early, but better yet, and what gives him a lot of respect, is how that he also never looked the other way about the wrongdoing, corruption and mistakes of his own side as well.

Better yet, he also called his side on it loud and clear, often incurring the wrath of people political parties, biased journalists and so on who decided to simply pretend to be blind. In times where political discussion can ridiculously escalate, and when bias often make people extremely partial, it's refreshing to see someone who clearly has his own preferences, but always called the bullshit his own side was doing as well.

After all, blind following is exactly what people in power want. It's practically a free pass for corruption, abuse and other things, which makes for a worse government for all. Feb 12, Nooilforpacifists rated it really liked it Shelves: lit-crit , asia.

In fact I read most of these essays in this handsome hardcover some 13 years ago during my gloomy days due to my unsatisfactorily productive academic pursuit at UQ. However I recalled vaguely I had written some ideas, reflections, views, etc. Therefore, I have resumed reading those unread as my second In fact I read most of these essays in this handsome hardcover some 13 years ago during my gloomy days due to my unsatisfactorily productive academic pursuit at UQ.

Therefore, I have resumed reading those unread as my second round hoping to complete this mission as soon as time and enjoyment are available; it is my delight whenever I see some Goodreads readers reading his scintillating messages to the elite somewhere as well as his readers, I think, to ponder and act wisely in the name of democracy, integrity and scholarship. Apr 22, J. I honestly have no clue how I forgot to catalog this. Two renewals twice as many summers past.

Nine golden weeks.

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Cover letter despite lack of experience I actually read a free Gutenberg version of his 50 essays, but it's much the same as this edition. No one would think of running cheap trips to the Distressed Areas. They look like a French or Italian steel helmet, but they are made of some kind of pith and very light, and so strong, that you can take a violent blow on the head without feeling it. However, I also sold newspapers in the province when I was a young boy. Second part of a four-part series of essays. Also it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. Product Details.
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Read george orwell essays Many of the people in Sheffield or Manchester, if they smelled the air along the Cornish cliffs, would probably declare that it had no taste dynamics hibbeler homework solution it. Lists with This Book. Short story published unsigned in Bubble and Squeak No. Published in Tribunesigned "Crystal-Gazer Orwell". First published 2 November I had almost made up my mind that the whole story was a pack of lies, when we heard yells a little distance away. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
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He was a lonely boy probably because he did grow up with a father and he found comfort in books: reading stories and novels and and writing poetry. He gave the following as motivations the drive writers to write: 1 Sheer egoism 2 Esthetic enthusiasm 3 Historical impulse 4 Political purpose Orwell did not say it but I think the last one was what drove him to write and Animal Farm. No book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Sorry for the long review. I was just carried away by this book. I did not know that reading essays could be as exciting and enriching as reading works of fiction. View all 7 comments. What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. George Orwell is one of the inescapable writers of the last century. His d What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art.

His dystopian novel recently became a surprise best-seller, almost seventy years after its initial publication. That is more than mere survival. It was rather—and I feel somewhat silly saying this—for his writing style. His style can accommodate both the abstract and the concrete, the homely and the refined, the pretentious and the vulgar; his prose can satisfy both the academic and the artist, the intellectual and the layperson, the Panurge and the parish priest.

It is unmistakably modern, even sleek, while obviously informed by the tastes and standards of the past. It is fiery, angry, and political, while remaining intimate, human, and honest. There are two sides of the man, sometimes in harmony, and sometimes at odds: the writer and the activist.

Orwell the writer is captivated by the rhythms of words, the sounds of sentences; he loves ruminating on a strange personality or a memorable story; he is enchanted by the details of daily life. Orwell the activist is outraged at injustice and uncompromising in his moral sense; he sees people as a collection of allies and enemies, taking part in a grand struggle to bring about a better society, or a worse one.

It was his firsthand experience of imperialism, poverty, and fascism that activated his political conscience. In his brilliant essay on Dickens, for example, he spends page after page trying to analyze Dickens as a kind of social philosopher, examining Dickens's views on work, on the state, on education, and so on. It is only in the last section, where Orwell drops this pretense and treats Dickens as a novelist, that the essay becomes deeply insightful. Indeed, it soon becomes clear—it seems clear to me, at least—that Orwell likes Dickens for his writing, and not his activism, however much he may wish to think otherwise.

Other essays exhibit this same tension. At least half the time, he is utterly convincing in this. We owe a tremendous debt to Orwell for this insight. All art may be propaganda, but it is not only propaganda; it is not even primarily so. There needs to be room in criticism, as in life, for the non-political. We need to be able to enjoy a novelist because of his characters and not his views on the state, a poet for his lines rather than his opinions, a dirty joke or a trashy magazine just because we want a laugh and a break.

This may be true; but it is also true that such "non-political" things are necessary to live a full life. Where I most disagree with Orwell is his conviction that the media we consume—magazines, post cards, popular novels, television—nefariously and decisively shape our worldview. For my part, I suspect that people absorb their opinions more from their community, face-to-face, and then seek out media that corresponds with their pre-existing views: not the reverse.

All this is besides the point. I admire Orwell, for his fierce independence, for his sense of outrage and injustice, for his facility with words, for his attempt to blend art and truth. In other words, I admire both the writer and the activist, and I think his work should be read until judgment day. View all 4 comments. While best known for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four , Orwell was probably a better essayist than a novelist.

Orwell wrote many book reviews as well, most of which serve more as a format for him to express his opinions than as a discussion of the books themselves. Sometimes these are on surprising but intriguing topics, such as Orwell's criticism of Tolstoy's criticism of Shakespeare. This book is organized chronologically, which makes sense, but unfortunately suffers from the lack of an index. Still, for those who want to go beyond the same essays that are printed in most anthologies, this edition will provide as many Orwell essays as just about anyone could possibly want to read.

View all 11 comments. The man was amazingly prescient, at a deep, detailed level. This was one of the best collections of essays I've ever read, probably second only to Freeman Dyson's The Scientist as a Rebel. Across pages of essays from the vast majority of them coming from , written for a wide gamut of man, this book is such a great old friend.

Across pages of essays from the vast majority of them coming from , written for a wide gamut of publications, Orwell manages to repeat himself only a few times usually clearly-relished zingers -- a fine show of editing, as each annoying bit of repetition is found within an essay that simply couldn't have been left out due to other unique, interesting points.

Having read it, I feel far more conversant with the politics of the pre-war years, the Fabian Society-inspired English breed of socialism, the demise of realpolitik as Fascism's yoke was affixed, battled and finally thrown off Orwell is one of the most intelligent, aware and just amazingly foresighted authors of the twentieth century, and this book will find itself a place near my mattress for some time.

View 1 comment. Some of these I'd come across in other Orwell books, so only read the essays I hadn't. What can I say, he was simply a great writer of non-fiction. Whatever the subject, he is always just so interesting to read. He could write about doing the washing up and it would probably be good. Mar 16, Randy rated it really liked it. And granted, there is some seriously anachronistic stuff here. Some real snoozers that are stuck so firmly in time and place that only the most devoted anglophiles or Orwellians would be interested 'The Art of Donald McGill', 'England Your England', 'Boys' Weeklies'.

But the majority of essays are written with terrific clarity and foresight, carried by Orwell's power of observation and knack for capturing insight in pithy, memorable sentences. Indeed, this is probably one the most quotable books I've read in a long while. Some examples: " But unlike Emerson, Orwell retains full command of the essay in form and function as well.

Even the most anachornistic essays in this collection are still focused and rooted in finely observed detail. But Orwell's sharpest and most relevant commentary can be found in the essays about the nature of political power, language, and writing 'Shooting an Elephant', 'Politics and the English Language', 'Why I Write'. In these he articulates the interplay of language and power--the way words can conceal as well as clarify. No surprise that he's thought so deeply about what would be at the heart of his masterpiece.

Even the critical pieces on Dickens and Rudyard Kipling offer insights about those authors that I hadn't considered before 'Charles Dickens', in particular, is both savage and enlightening. Worth reading for the political essays alone and if you're an impatient reader, pick and choose what interests you from the rest. A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other. I cannot recall the name of the author or of the book but I remember very clearly how at the end I admired the skill of Davis as an actor more than I had before reading but admired her as an actual person a good deal less.

You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawfo A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other. You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawford impression , but at the end of this series of essays I think I have a similar reaction to him and his craft.

The essays and articles span the last 20 years of his life and include the prose for which he is famous such as his account of taking part in the execution of a rebel in Burma and of the shooting of a rogue elephant down through his accounts of sleeping rough or his being hospitalized in a mediocre hospital in France and then on through his clarion calls for the ending of the inequality and oppression of the state, the hypocrisy and obfuscation of varying Governments' 'doublespeak' and then more lilting and amusing reflections on the power of a nice cup of tea, the draw of the bookshop and the unlikely herald of spring, the toad.

The articles and essays are fascinating and are emminently quotable but I will restrain myself, to a large extent, but the most interesting aspect I found was the way you saw the plots and theories that were to dominate Orwell's fiction and more extended factual work being brought to birth as it were in these shorter reflections. His loathing of hypocrisy, his joining of battle against the forces of totalitarianism wherever they are found, his intense loathing for the lack of principled thought in so much poltical life, his hatred of the mealy mouthed use of words in which meanings and understandings are blurred and warped; all of them weere seen growing and developing.

His flashes of humour and sarcastic wit can be found in the most unexpected of places and his honing in on one little detail to make his point is a regular occurrence. Speaking at one point of the patriotism present in most people in times of conflict he defends this and points it out as natural but then says of England 'It is a family.

It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control A man fighting, always fighting for justice but with a great use of prose to make his point. At another point, whilst criticizing the hypocrisy of the leftist politicians between the wars, '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' or again of truth and history 'I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonnment of the idea that history could be truthfully written If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'it never happened' - well, it never happened.

This is all fascinating and intriguing but the negative aspect of Orwell lurks in the background. That he had a hard and difficult life is not to be denied, that there was much for him to become embittered about cannot be ignored and recognizing the differences of and 40's mores or outlooks then his pejorative descriptions of 'Jews ', his disgust of homosexuality and his rather dismissive outlook towards women might be understandable even if not welcomed but it is his underlying lack of respect for the 'working class' that is so off-putting.

His feelings that they should have a better standard of living, and there is no doubting his sincerity concerning the need for a radical overhaul and redistribution of wealth and opportunity, does not seem to extend to his actually liking them. He speaks incredibly high-handedly of their grossness and ugliness and stupidity, of course he recognizes the individual strengths of individual examples but, as a group, he is wholly unimpressed.

Maybe this is inevitable as the two sided coin of the chasm between classes in the first half of the 20th Century alongisde Orwell's own miserable persona but it makes for uncomfortable reading. On a lighter side to finish. Orwell was intelligent, clear thinking, insightful and perceptive but he still thought that by the 's there would only be about 13 milion people in the UK View all 14 comments.

I've said it before. I'll say it again. It's Orwell. It's fantastic. I actually read a free Gutenberg version of his 50 essays, but it's much the same as this edition. A few of the essays were too political and only relevant to certain past events. A few were quite boring or about very obscure subjects. Yet the vast majority were absolutely fantastic, topical, relevant for today and incredibly well constructed.

Essential reading for Orwell fans. Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces m I've said it before. Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces might be the way to go. Several of them should be required reading for school students.

Dec 21, William2 rated it really liked it Shelves: essays , nonfiction , ce , uk. Selected essays. I thought the essays here on Dickens and Kipling were revelations. About ninety percent of the essays cited by other authors that I have read are included here.

View all 3 comments. This work is a strange collection which brings together short stories that I appreciated, at the beginning of the book with "A hanging" and "How I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political texts. I had enjoyed and The Animal Farm very much, and I wanted to continue my reading of George Orwell, but this book is not the right one, there are some exciting things, but the whole is an uneven patchwork and with parts that do not match.

On the other hand, I found This work is a strange collection which brings together short stories that I appreciated, at the beginning of the book with "A hanging" and "How I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political texts. On the other hand, I found it very interesting to see Orwell's very anarchist and leftist views. View 2 comments. All of them are brilliant. Mar 17, notgettingenough rated it it was amazing Shelves: sociology. Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure.

Good bad books. Essay by George Orwell. First published 2 November Not long ago a publisher commissioned me to write an introduction for a reprint of a novel by Leonard Merrick. This pu Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure. This publishing house, it appears, is going to reissue a long series of minor and partly-forgotten novels of the twentieth century.

It is a valuable service in these bookless days, and I rather envy the person whose job it will be to scout round the threepenny boxes, hunting down copies of his boyhood favourites. A type of book which we hardly seem to produce in these days, but which flowered with great richness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is what Chesterton called the "good bad book": that is, the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions have perished.

Obviously outstanding books in this line are RAFFLES and the Sherlock Holmes stories, which have kept their place when innumerable "problem novels", "human documents" and "terrible indictments" of this or that have fallen into deserved oblivion. Who has worn better, Conan Doyle or Meredith? Almost in the same class as these I, put R. But apart from thrillers, there were the minor humorous writers of the period.

For example, Pett Ridge-but I admit his full-length books no longer seem readable--E. A cut above most of these was Barry Pain. Somewhat later in time there was Peter Blundell, who wrote in the W. Jacobs vein about Far Eastern seaport towns, and who seems to be rather unaccountably forgotten, in spite of having been praised in print by H.

However, all the books I have been speaking of are frankly "escape" literature. They form pleasant patches in one's memory, quiet corners where the mind can browse at odd moments, but they hardly pretend to have anything to do with real life.

There is another kind of good bad book which is more seriously intended, and which tells us, I think, something about the nature of the novel and the reasons for its present decadence. During the last fifty years there has been a whole series of writers--some of them are still writing--whom it is quite impossible to call "good" by any strictly literary standard, but who are natural novelists and who seem to attain sincerity partly because they are not inhibited by good taste.

In this class I put Leonard Merrick himself, W. George, J. Beresford, Ernest Raymond, May Sinclair, and--at a lower level than the others but still essentially similar--A. Most of these have been prolific writers, and their output has naturally varied in quality.

In each of these books the author has been able to identify himself with his imagined characters, to feel with them and invite sympathy on their behalf. They bring out the fact that intellectual refinement can be a disadvantage to a story-teller, as it would be to a music-hall comedian. I think it gains a great deal from the fact that the author only partly grasps the pathetic vulgarity of the people he is writing about, and therefore does not despise them.

Here there is not the same clumsiness, but there is the same ability to take seriously the problems of commonplace people. The greater part of what W. George wrote was shoddy rubbish, but in this particular book, based on the career of Northcliffe, he achieved some memorable and truthful pictures of lower-middle-class London life.

Parts of this book are probably autobiographical, and one of the advantages of good bad writers is their lack of shame in writing autobiography. Exhibitionism and self-pity are the bane of the novelist, and yet if he is too frightened of them his creative gift may suffer.

The existence of good bad literature - the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously - is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration. I imagine that by any test that could be devised, Carlyle would be found to be a more intelligent man than Trollope. Yet Trollope has remained readable and Carlyle has not: with all his cleverness he had not even the wit to write in plain straightforward English.

In novelists, almost as much as in poets, the connection between intelligence and creative power is hard to establish. A good novelist may be a prodigy of self-discipline like Flaubert, or he may be an intellectual sprawl like Dickens. Yet it would be a very heavy labour to read one of these books right through. It is an unintentionally ludicrous book, full of preposterous melodramatic incidents; it is also deeply moving and essentially true; it is hard to say which quality outweighs the other.

How about the frankly escapist writers, the purveyors of thrills and "light" humour? All of these are definitely absurd books, books which one is more inclined to laugh AT than WITH, and which were hardly taken seriously even by their authors; yet they have survived, and will probably continue to do so.

All one can say is that, while civilisation remains such that one needs distraction from time to time, "light" literature has its appointed place; also that there is such a thing as sheer skill, or native grace, which may have more survival value than erudition or intellectual power. There are music-hall songs which are better poems than three-quarters of the stuff that gets into the anthologies: Come where the booze is cheaper, Come where the pots hold more, Come where the boss is a bit of a sport, Come to the pub next door!

Or again: Two lovely black eyes Oh, what a surprise! Only for calling another man wrong, Two lovely black eyes! I would far rather have written either of those than, say, "The Blessed Damozel" or "Love in the Valley". An Orwellian Feast This truly is a feast of writing from a prescient man who claimed to be an atheist yet chose to live a Christ-like existence among the downtrodden, who battled through a life of illness, yet fought and suffered the scars of Fascism and could articulate frightening visions of the dangers of Totalitarianism, images that remain our guideposts to this day.

This collection of 39 essays written in the last 18 years of his life cover a diversity of subjects set in different milieu: fro An Orwellian Feast This truly is a feast of writing from a prescient man who claimed to be an atheist yet chose to live a Christ-like existence among the downtrodden, who battled through a life of illness, yet fought and suffered the scars of Fascism and could articulate frightening visions of the dangers of Totalitarianism, images that remain our guideposts to this day.

This collection of 39 essays written in the last 18 years of his life cover a diversity of subjects set in different milieu: from his colonial sojourn as a policeman in Burma to his peregrinations through workhouse shelters as a tramp, from visiting mines in the impoverished north of England to spending time in a public hospital in France where more people die than recover, from working in bookshops and observing reading tastes of the time to his wartime exploits in the Spanish Civil War and WWII, and his post-war work as a journalist, Orwell exercises his incisive powers of observation and judgment that takes no prisoners.

Just as much as anyone else, he should be prepared to deliver lectures in draughty halls, to chalk pavements, to canvass voters, to distribute leaflets, even to fight in civil wars if it seems necessary.

But whatever else he does in the service of his party, he should never write for it. He should make it clear that his writing is a thing apart. Through this collection of essays, a portrait of Orwell emerges. He followed his father at the age of 19 into the British overseas civil service and witnessed the underbelly of colonialism, resigning his cushy job after five years in Burma.

Orwell chose thereafter to mix with the downtrodden even though he could have gone home at the end of the day to a warm bed in middle-class England. His prescience resulted in Animal Farm and , books that ensured him literary immortality. Upon finishing this collection, I had a sudden thought. I would like to have spent time with this man, despite him dying a few years before I was born.

In particular, I would liked to have asked him, given the great literary gifts he was bestowed with, why did he choose the squalor? George Orwell was probably one of the most important social critique of his times. Being in the army, he traveled the world, became part of a society he was alien to and provided well thought out feedback on various issues.

He was outspoken about British imperialism during his trip to India and Burma, criticized willful ignorance of liberals during Spanish war and wrote about writers, artists and their works. His body of work is vast and this one large volume doesn't cover it entirely. George Orw George Orwell was probably one of the most important social critique of his times.

George Orwell as an essayist has more impact as a writer than as a novelist. As an essayist he displays an edge, a harshness towards the British society that doesn't bat an eye at the world that is on fire. It is a time when there is chaos in Europe and the empire is warring in several parts of geographies. It isn't dissimilar to the world today. His observations is heavily laced with socialism and he isn't one to disagree when asked.

There is an unpublished letter that is essentially Orwell telling off a publisher to stop sending him rubbish questionnaire. Wells, D. Lawrence, to name a few. Orwell was incredibly well read and followed world politics closely. Orwell's essay collection gives a glimpse of the world through his eyes.

A fierce social critique, his opinions isn't limited to everyday politics but extends to war elsewhere, literature in different countries and art. This collection shows evolution of a man and how he changes as a person as he faces new challenges in new places and gains new experiences. Must read for any who love to see the world from the point of view of an author who believed that a dystopian future was humanity's legacy.

Oct 31, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in , unexpectedly-terrific. Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation. This collection contains several classic essays -- "Shooting an Elephant", "Politics and the English Language", "Such, Such were the Joys" memories of his schooldays -- as well as amazing pieces on Dickens, Kipling, and the state of literature in the s "Inside the Whale". Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation.

Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write, Orwell is always engaging and writes in clear, crisp prose that most essayists can only aspire to.

I don't have much to add about Orwell, his prescience, his style, etc. I did find something that I confess made me wonder whether Orwell is quite as egalitarian, or as strict about avoiding bad rhetoric, as the people who talk about him now would like him to be.

These lines come from "Inside the Whale," a review of Tropic of Cancer : "In mid-nineteenth-century America men felt themselves free and equal, were free and equal, so far as that is possible outside a society of pure Communism. There was I don't have much to add about Orwell, his prescience, his style, etc. There was poverty and there were even class-distinctions, but except for the Negroes there was no permanently submerged class.

Look at that "except" again. His commitment to his argument—that people, all people, had more of a license to be themselves, back in the old days—brings him this close to trying to make the entire levels-deep institution of American white-on-not-white racism disappear. It's pretty awkward. The guy who wrote "Politics and the English Language," Mr. Tell It Like It Is, wouldn't have written it, except that he did.

It took me 3 months but I finally finished this exceptional collection of essays ranging from complex topics like politics, literature and history to simple matters such as writing, nature and scrutiny of everyday life. Such a society - can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable. Highly recommended. Nov 07, Salam Almahi rated it really liked it Shelves: resting-on-my-shelf , classics , non-fiction , essays. Okay so, let's get one thing straight: My review is not of this particular book, but I've read a collection of Orwell's essays and didn't know how to mark them.

The essays I read are: - Politics and The English Language : It was what intrigued me to read these bunch of essays in the first place. I got the idea that it was what gave birth to the idea of Newspeak the language used in , but upon reading it, it was very different..

More like a critique of changes in writing styles. Orwell was ve Okay so, let's get one thing straight: My review is not of this particular book, but I've read a collection of Orwell's essays and didn't know how to mark them. Orwell was very "bitter? It basically sends the message that: even though the world is crumbling around us, doesn't mean that we can't appreciate the little beautiful things surrounding us.

It made me think of colonization in a deeper way. It was very interesting to see the point of view of someone among the colonizers. So naturally- did not relate. But George Orwell did build a realistic, almost tangible setting and atmosphere. Orwell would've been proud that this thing exists now. But the dilemma of the image of poetry, and its accessibility is still unfortunately, present.

In conclusion, I can say with confidence, that I prefer Orwell's nonfiction, over his fiction. A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society.

I read Orwell's essays in college in fact, I may have read some in high school , and have usually carried a volume around with me since. Orwell has been one of the most influential people in the shaping of my own world view. So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political t A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society.

So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political tracts are badly written -- because people actually want to conceal what they are trying to say advocating violence sounds so much better when dressed up in patriotic cliches. In "Shooting an Elephant," Orwell discusses one particular day when he was on the police force in Burma, and what the events of that day taught him about the nature of imperialism.

In "Reflections on Gandhi," Orwell described why he disliked the man. But Orwell says that Gandhi was trying to be a saint, and that saints are different in nature from other people. To be a saint, you must love everyone equally. But to be human means to love some people -- your family, your friends -- more than others.

Orwell sees that as the more worthwhile goal. Plus essays on Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Tolstoy's take on King Lear, boy's stories, dirty postcards Orwell loves reading and analyzing everything , his own school days, the Spanish civil war, etc. All written in clear, accessible prose. Jul 31, Lanko rated it it was amazing Shelves: The most impressive thing of the book was how Orwell himself changed some of his views over time, specially some he was very adamant early on.

The book spans essays over decades, and Orwell is really good at giving a clear picture of the situation of the time, but intentionally or not, giving hints of himself as a person. While it's clear Orwell has an obvious preference for an economic system, over time he changed views on some of the things he endorsed early, but better yet, and what gives him The most impressive thing of the book was how Orwell himself changed some of his views over time, specially some he was very adamant early on.

While it's clear Orwell has an obvious preference for an economic system, over time he changed views on some of the things he endorsed early, but better yet, and what gives him a lot of respect, is how that he also never looked the other way about the wrongdoing, corruption and mistakes of his own side as well. Better yet, he also called his side on it loud and clear, often incurring the wrath of people political parties, biased journalists and so on who decided to simply pretend to be blind.

In times where political discussion can ridiculously escalate, and when bias often make people extremely partial, it's refreshing to see someone who clearly has his own preferences, but always called the bullshit his own side was doing as well. After all, blind following is exactly what people in power want. It's practically a free pass for corruption, abuse and other things, which makes for a worse government for all.

Feb 12, Nooilforpacifists rated it really liked it Shelves: lit-crit , asia. In fact I read most of these essays in this handsome hardcover some 13 years ago during my gloomy days due to my unsatisfactorily productive academic pursuit at UQ. However I recalled vaguely I had written some ideas, reflections, views, etc. Therefore, I have resumed reading those unread as my second In fact I read most of these essays in this handsome hardcover some 13 years ago during my gloomy days due to my unsatisfactorily productive academic pursuit at UQ.

Therefore, I have resumed reading those unread as my second round hoping to complete this mission as soon as time and enjoyment are available; it is my delight whenever I see some Goodreads readers reading his scintillating messages to the elite somewhere as well as his readers, I think, to ponder and act wisely in the name of democracy, integrity and scholarship. Apr 22, J. I honestly have no clue how I forgot to catalog this. Two renewals twice as many summers past. Nine golden weeks.

Makes for a good weapon in the case of a mugging as well, also good on the arm muscles. Highly recommended, I only wish I could write this clearly, or even think this clearly. A lot about politics, propaganda and modern life both haven't really changed since then it seems , the most impressive thing to me is that even though he nowadays counts as a socialist, he can impartially describe the follies of both left and right without falling for the lies and self- deceptions of either side.

I don't know any "modern" as in, currently alive writers who can do this. As a sidenote, one c Highly recommended, I only wish I could write this clearly, or even think this clearly. As a sidenote, one can find many "famous" formulations of Animal Farm or in these essays before they appeared in the books. If you read one essay of his, choose this one: Politics and the English Language , probably the most relevant to contemporary times.

I've underlined about a hundred insightful passages which I'm just going to paste here so that you can get a general idea. All others can stop here. Keep in mind that most of these essays are written It seems to me a safe assumption that the disease loosely called nationalism is now almost universal. Antisemitism is only one manifestation of nationalism, and not everyone will have the disease in that particular form.

A Jew, for example, would not be antisemitic: but then many Zionist Jews seem to me to be merely antisemites turned upside-down, just as many Indians and Negroes display the normal colour prejudices in an inverted form. Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.

In Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. 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.

If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognise that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes. But what this scene, and much else that I saw in Germany, brought home to me was that the whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish daydream.

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. Who would not have jumped for joy, in , at the thought of seeing S. But when the thing becomes possible, it is merely pathetic and disgusting.

But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe — at any rate for short periods — that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.

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. This point is of cardinal importance, because it may mean that the discovery of the atomic bomb, so far from reversing history, will simply intensify the trends which have been apparent for a dozen years past.

But suppose — and really this the likeliest development — that the surviving great nations make a tacit agreement never to use the atomic bomb against one another? Suppose they only use it, or the threat of it, against people who are unable to retaliate? In that case we are back where we were before, the only difference being that power is concentrated in still fewer hands and that the outlook for subject peoples and oppressed classes is still more hopeless.

If you plant a walnut you are planting it for your grandchildren, and who cares a damn for his grandchildren? Every writer, in any case, is rather that kind of person, but the prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash — though it does involve that, as I will show in a moment — but constantly INVENTING reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever.

People talk about the horrors of war, but what weapon has man invented that even approaches in cruelty some of the commoner diseases? This business of people just dying like animals, for instance, with nobody standing by, nobody interested, the death not even noticed till the morning — this happened more than once.

Machiavelli and his followers taught that in politics decency simply does not exist, and, by doing so, Burnham claims, made it possible to conduct political affairs more intelligently and less oppressively. A ruling class which recognised that its real aim was to stay in power would also recognise that it would be more likely to succeed if it served the common good, and might avoid stiffening into a hereditary aristocracy. Socialism, until recently, was supposed to connote political democracy, social equality and internationalism.

There is not the smallest sign that any of these things is in a way to being established anywhere, and the one great country in which something described as a proletarian revolution once happened, i. In an almost unbroken progress since the early days of the Revolution, liberty has been chipped away and representative institutions smothered, while inequalities have increased and nationalism and militarism have grown stronger.

Political predictions are usually wrong, because they are usually based on wish-thinking, but they can have symptomatic value, especially when they change abruptly. The huge, invincible, everlasting slave empire of which Burnham appears to dream will not be established, or, if established, will not endure, because slavery is no longer a stable basis for human society. The question only arises because in exploring the physical universe man has made no attempt to explore himself.

Much of what goes by the name of pleasure is simply an effort to destroy consciousness. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of WORDS chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of PHRASES tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.

In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer.

It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly?

Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years as a result of dictatorship. Supposing that there is such a thing as good or bad art, then the goodness or badness must reside in the work of art itself — not independently of the observer, indeed, but independently of the mood of the observer.

In one sense, therefore, it cannot be true that a poem is good on Monday and bad on Tuesday. But if one judges the poem by the appreciation it arouses, then it can certainly be true, because appreciation, or enjoyment, is a subjective condition which cannot be commanded. Although Orwell was on the left, he also held patriotic although not exactly fervently nationalistic attitudes towards England which many of his comrades on the left found baffling.

As well as writing on politics and being a writer, Orwell also wrote perceptively about readers and book-buyers — as in this essay, published the same year as his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying , which combined both bookshops and writers the novel focuses on Gordon Comstock, an aspiring poet. He also wrote about things like the perfect pub, and how to make the best cup of tea, for the London Evening Standard in the late s. Hear, hear. I like Shooting the Elephant altho Julian Barnes seems to believe this is fictitious.

Is this still a live debate? Thanks, Orwell was a master at combining wisdom and readability. Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email. Email Address. Interesting Literature is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Share this: Tweet. Like this: Like Loading Rik November 27, at pm.

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Some real snoozers that are stuck so firmly in time and place that only the most devoted anglophiles or Orwellians would be interested 'The Art of Donald McGill', 'England Your England', 'Boys' Weeklies'. But the majority of essays are written with terrific clarity and foresight, carried by Orwell's power of observation and knack for capturing insight in pithy, memorable sentences.

Indeed, this is probably one the most quotable books I've read in a long while. Some examples: " But unlike Emerson, Orwell retains full command of the essay in form and function as well. Even the most anachornistic essays in this collection are still focused and rooted in finely observed detail. But Orwell's sharpest and most relevant commentary can be found in the essays about the nature of political power, language, and writing 'Shooting an Elephant', 'Politics and the English Language', 'Why I Write'.

In these he articulates the interplay of language and power--the way words can conceal as well as clarify. No surprise that he's thought so deeply about what would be at the heart of his masterpiece. Even the critical pieces on Dickens and Rudyard Kipling offer insights about those authors that I hadn't considered before 'Charles Dickens', in particular, is both savage and enlightening. Worth reading for the political essays alone and if you're an impatient reader, pick and choose what interests you from the rest.

A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other. I cannot recall the name of the author or of the book but I remember very clearly how at the end I admired the skill of Davis as an actor more than I had before reading but admired her as an actual person a good deal less. You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawfo A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other.

You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawford impression , but at the end of this series of essays I think I have a similar reaction to him and his craft. The essays and articles span the last 20 years of his life and include the prose for which he is famous such as his account of taking part in the execution of a rebel in Burma and of the shooting of a rogue elephant down through his accounts of sleeping rough or his being hospitalized in a mediocre hospital in France and then on through his clarion calls for the ending of the inequality and oppression of the state, the hypocrisy and obfuscation of varying Governments' 'doublespeak' and then more lilting and amusing reflections on the power of a nice cup of tea, the draw of the bookshop and the unlikely herald of spring, the toad.

The articles and essays are fascinating and are emminently quotable but I will restrain myself, to a large extent, but the most interesting aspect I found was the way you saw the plots and theories that were to dominate Orwell's fiction and more extended factual work being brought to birth as it were in these shorter reflections. His loathing of hypocrisy, his joining of battle against the forces of totalitarianism wherever they are found, his intense loathing for the lack of principled thought in so much poltical life, his hatred of the mealy mouthed use of words in which meanings and understandings are blurred and warped; all of them weere seen growing and developing.

His flashes of humour and sarcastic wit can be found in the most unexpected of places and his honing in on one little detail to make his point is a regular occurrence. Speaking at one point of the patriotism present in most people in times of conflict he defends this and points it out as natural but then says of England 'It is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control A man fighting, always fighting for justice but with a great use of prose to make his point.

At another point, whilst criticizing the hypocrisy of the leftist politicians between the wars, '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' or again of truth and history 'I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonnment of the idea that history could be truthfully written If the Leader says of such and such an event, 'it never happened' - well, it never happened.

This is all fascinating and intriguing but the negative aspect of Orwell lurks in the background. That he had a hard and difficult life is not to be denied, that there was much for him to become embittered about cannot be ignored and recognizing the differences of and 40's mores or outlooks then his pejorative descriptions of 'Jews ', his disgust of homosexuality and his rather dismissive outlook towards women might be understandable even if not welcomed but it is his underlying lack of respect for the 'working class' that is so off-putting.

His feelings that they should have a better standard of living, and there is no doubting his sincerity concerning the need for a radical overhaul and redistribution of wealth and opportunity, does not seem to extend to his actually liking them. He speaks incredibly high-handedly of their grossness and ugliness and stupidity, of course he recognizes the individual strengths of individual examples but, as a group, he is wholly unimpressed.

Maybe this is inevitable as the two sided coin of the chasm between classes in the first half of the 20th Century alongisde Orwell's own miserable persona but it makes for uncomfortable reading. On a lighter side to finish. Orwell was intelligent, clear thinking, insightful and perceptive but he still thought that by the 's there would only be about 13 milion people in the UK View all 14 comments. I've said it before. I'll say it again.

It's Orwell. It's fantastic. I actually read a free Gutenberg version of his 50 essays, but it's much the same as this edition. A few of the essays were too political and only relevant to certain past events. A few were quite boring or about very obscure subjects. Yet the vast majority were absolutely fantastic, topical, relevant for today and incredibly well constructed.

Essential reading for Orwell fans. Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces m I've said it before. Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces might be the way to go. Several of them should be required reading for school students. Dec 21, William2 rated it really liked it Shelves: essays , nonfiction , ce , uk. Selected essays. I thought the essays here on Dickens and Kipling were revelations.

About ninety percent of the essays cited by other authors that I have read are included here. View all 3 comments. This work is a strange collection which brings together short stories that I appreciated, at the beginning of the book with "A hanging" and "How I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political texts. I had enjoyed and The Animal Farm very much, and I wanted to continue my reading of George Orwell, but this book is not the right one, there are some exciting things, but the whole is an uneven patchwork and with parts that do not match.

On the other hand, I found This work is a strange collection which brings together short stories that I appreciated, at the beginning of the book with "A hanging" and "How I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political texts.

On the other hand, I found it very interesting to see Orwell's very anarchist and leftist views. View 2 comments. All of them are brilliant. Mar 17, notgettingenough rated it it was amazing Shelves: sociology. Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure.

Good bad books. Essay by George Orwell. First published 2 November Not long ago a publisher commissioned me to write an introduction for a reprint of a novel by Leonard Merrick. This pu Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure. This publishing house, it appears, is going to reissue a long series of minor and partly-forgotten novels of the twentieth century.

It is a valuable service in these bookless days, and I rather envy the person whose job it will be to scout round the threepenny boxes, hunting down copies of his boyhood favourites. A type of book which we hardly seem to produce in these days, but which flowered with great richness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is what Chesterton called the "good bad book": that is, the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions have perished.

Obviously outstanding books in this line are RAFFLES and the Sherlock Holmes stories, which have kept their place when innumerable "problem novels", "human documents" and "terrible indictments" of this or that have fallen into deserved oblivion. Who has worn better, Conan Doyle or Meredith? Almost in the same class as these I, put R. But apart from thrillers, there were the minor humorous writers of the period.

For example, Pett Ridge-but I admit his full-length books no longer seem readable--E. A cut above most of these was Barry Pain. Somewhat later in time there was Peter Blundell, who wrote in the W. Jacobs vein about Far Eastern seaport towns, and who seems to be rather unaccountably forgotten, in spite of having been praised in print by H. However, all the books I have been speaking of are frankly "escape" literature. They form pleasant patches in one's memory, quiet corners where the mind can browse at odd moments, but they hardly pretend to have anything to do with real life.

There is another kind of good bad book which is more seriously intended, and which tells us, I think, something about the nature of the novel and the reasons for its present decadence. During the last fifty years there has been a whole series of writers--some of them are still writing--whom it is quite impossible to call "good" by any strictly literary standard, but who are natural novelists and who seem to attain sincerity partly because they are not inhibited by good taste. In this class I put Leonard Merrick himself, W.

George, J. Beresford, Ernest Raymond, May Sinclair, and--at a lower level than the others but still essentially similar--A. Most of these have been prolific writers, and their output has naturally varied in quality. In each of these books the author has been able to identify himself with his imagined characters, to feel with them and invite sympathy on their behalf.

They bring out the fact that intellectual refinement can be a disadvantage to a story-teller, as it would be to a music-hall comedian. I think it gains a great deal from the fact that the author only partly grasps the pathetic vulgarity of the people he is writing about, and therefore does not despise them.

Here there is not the same clumsiness, but there is the same ability to take seriously the problems of commonplace people. The greater part of what W. George wrote was shoddy rubbish, but in this particular book, based on the career of Northcliffe, he achieved some memorable and truthful pictures of lower-middle-class London life.

Parts of this book are probably autobiographical, and one of the advantages of good bad writers is their lack of shame in writing autobiography. Exhibitionism and self-pity are the bane of the novelist, and yet if he is too frightened of them his creative gift may suffer. The existence of good bad literature - the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously - is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration.

I imagine that by any test that could be devised, Carlyle would be found to be a more intelligent man than Trollope. Yet Trollope has remained readable and Carlyle has not: with all his cleverness he had not even the wit to write in plain straightforward English. In novelists, almost as much as in poets, the connection between intelligence and creative power is hard to establish.

A good novelist may be a prodigy of self-discipline like Flaubert, or he may be an intellectual sprawl like Dickens. Yet it would be a very heavy labour to read one of these books right through. It is an unintentionally ludicrous book, full of preposterous melodramatic incidents; it is also deeply moving and essentially true; it is hard to say which quality outweighs the other. How about the frankly escapist writers, the purveyors of thrills and "light" humour? All of these are definitely absurd books, books which one is more inclined to laugh AT than WITH, and which were hardly taken seriously even by their authors; yet they have survived, and will probably continue to do so.

All one can say is that, while civilisation remains such that one needs distraction from time to time, "light" literature has its appointed place; also that there is such a thing as sheer skill, or native grace, which may have more survival value than erudition or intellectual power. There are music-hall songs which are better poems than three-quarters of the stuff that gets into the anthologies: Come where the booze is cheaper, Come where the pots hold more, Come where the boss is a bit of a sport, Come to the pub next door!

Or again: Two lovely black eyes Oh, what a surprise! Only for calling another man wrong, Two lovely black eyes! I would far rather have written either of those than, say, "The Blessed Damozel" or "Love in the Valley".

An Orwellian Feast This truly is a feast of writing from a prescient man who claimed to be an atheist yet chose to live a Christ-like existence among the downtrodden, who battled through a life of illness, yet fought and suffered the scars of Fascism and could articulate frightening visions of the dangers of Totalitarianism, images that remain our guideposts to this day. This collection of 39 essays written in the last 18 years of his life cover a diversity of subjects set in different milieu: fro An Orwellian Feast This truly is a feast of writing from a prescient man who claimed to be an atheist yet chose to live a Christ-like existence among the downtrodden, who battled through a life of illness, yet fought and suffered the scars of Fascism and could articulate frightening visions of the dangers of Totalitarianism, images that remain our guideposts to this day.

This collection of 39 essays written in the last 18 years of his life cover a diversity of subjects set in different milieu: from his colonial sojourn as a policeman in Burma to his peregrinations through workhouse shelters as a tramp, from visiting mines in the impoverished north of England to spending time in a public hospital in France where more people die than recover, from working in bookshops and observing reading tastes of the time to his wartime exploits in the Spanish Civil War and WWII, and his post-war work as a journalist, Orwell exercises his incisive powers of observation and judgment that takes no prisoners.

Just as much as anyone else, he should be prepared to deliver lectures in draughty halls, to chalk pavements, to canvass voters, to distribute leaflets, even to fight in civil wars if it seems necessary. But whatever else he does in the service of his party, he should never write for it. He should make it clear that his writing is a thing apart. Through this collection of essays, a portrait of Orwell emerges. He followed his father at the age of 19 into the British overseas civil service and witnessed the underbelly of colonialism, resigning his cushy job after five years in Burma.

Orwell chose thereafter to mix with the downtrodden even though he could have gone home at the end of the day to a warm bed in middle-class England. His prescience resulted in Animal Farm and , books that ensured him literary immortality. Upon finishing this collection, I had a sudden thought. I would like to have spent time with this man, despite him dying a few years before I was born. In particular, I would liked to have asked him, given the great literary gifts he was bestowed with, why did he choose the squalor?

George Orwell was probably one of the most important social critique of his times. Being in the army, he traveled the world, became part of a society he was alien to and provided well thought out feedback on various issues. He was outspoken about British imperialism during his trip to India and Burma, criticized willful ignorance of liberals during Spanish war and wrote about writers, artists and their works.

His body of work is vast and this one large volume doesn't cover it entirely. George Orw George Orwell was probably one of the most important social critique of his times. George Orwell as an essayist has more impact as a writer than as a novelist.

As an essayist he displays an edge, a harshness towards the British society that doesn't bat an eye at the world that is on fire. It is a time when there is chaos in Europe and the empire is warring in several parts of geographies.

It isn't dissimilar to the world today. His observations is heavily laced with socialism and he isn't one to disagree when asked. There is an unpublished letter that is essentially Orwell telling off a publisher to stop sending him rubbish questionnaire. Wells, D. Lawrence, to name a few. Orwell was incredibly well read and followed world politics closely. Orwell's essay collection gives a glimpse of the world through his eyes.

A fierce social critique, his opinions isn't limited to everyday politics but extends to war elsewhere, literature in different countries and art. This collection shows evolution of a man and how he changes as a person as he faces new challenges in new places and gains new experiences. Must read for any who love to see the world from the point of view of an author who believed that a dystopian future was humanity's legacy.

Oct 31, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in , unexpectedly-terrific. Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation. This collection contains several classic essays -- "Shooting an Elephant", "Politics and the English Language", "Such, Such were the Joys" memories of his schooldays -- as well as amazing pieces on Dickens, Kipling, and the state of literature in the s "Inside the Whale". Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation.

Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write, Orwell is always engaging and writes in clear, crisp prose that most essayists can only aspire to. I don't have much to add about Orwell, his prescience, his style, etc. I did find something that I confess made me wonder whether Orwell is quite as egalitarian, or as strict about avoiding bad rhetoric, as the people who talk about him now would like him to be.

These lines come from "Inside the Whale," a review of Tropic of Cancer : "In mid-nineteenth-century America men felt themselves free and equal, were free and equal, so far as that is possible outside a society of pure Communism. There was I don't have much to add about Orwell, his prescience, his style, etc. There was poverty and there were even class-distinctions, but except for the Negroes there was no permanently submerged class.

Look at that "except" again. His commitment to his argument—that people, all people, had more of a license to be themselves, back in the old days—brings him this close to trying to make the entire levels-deep institution of American white-on-not-white racism disappear.

It's pretty awkward. The guy who wrote "Politics and the English Language," Mr. Tell It Like It Is, wouldn't have written it, except that he did. It took me 3 months but I finally finished this exceptional collection of essays ranging from complex topics like politics, literature and history to simple matters such as writing, nature and scrutiny of everyday life.

Such a society - can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable. Highly recommended. Nov 07, Salam Almahi rated it really liked it Shelves: resting-on-my-shelf , classics , non-fiction , essays. Okay so, let's get one thing straight: My review is not of this particular book, but I've read a collection of Orwell's essays and didn't know how to mark them. The essays I read are: - Politics and The English Language : It was what intrigued me to read these bunch of essays in the first place.

I got the idea that it was what gave birth to the idea of Newspeak the language used in , but upon reading it, it was very different.. More like a critique of changes in writing styles. Orwell was ve Okay so, let's get one thing straight: My review is not of this particular book, but I've read a collection of Orwell's essays and didn't know how to mark them.

Orwell was very "bitter? It basically sends the message that: even though the world is crumbling around us, doesn't mean that we can't appreciate the little beautiful things surrounding us. It made me think of colonization in a deeper way.

It was very interesting to see the point of view of someone among the colonizers. So naturally- did not relate. But George Orwell did build a realistic, almost tangible setting and atmosphere. Orwell would've been proud that this thing exists now. But the dilemma of the image of poetry, and its accessibility is still unfortunately, present. In conclusion, I can say with confidence, that I prefer Orwell's nonfiction, over his fiction. A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society.

I read Orwell's essays in college in fact, I may have read some in high school , and have usually carried a volume around with me since. Orwell has been one of the most influential people in the shaping of my own world view. So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political t A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society.

So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political tracts are badly written -- because people actually want to conceal what they are trying to say advocating violence sounds so much better when dressed up in patriotic cliches. In "Shooting an Elephant," Orwell discusses one particular day when he was on the police force in Burma, and what the events of that day taught him about the nature of imperialism.

In "Reflections on Gandhi," Orwell described why he disliked the man. But Orwell says that Gandhi was trying to be a saint, and that saints are different in nature from other people. To be a saint, you must love everyone equally. But to be human means to love some people -- your family, your friends -- more than others.

Orwell sees that as the more worthwhile goal. Plus essays on Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Tolstoy's take on King Lear, boy's stories, dirty postcards Orwell loves reading and analyzing everything , his own school days, the Spanish civil war, etc. All written in clear, accessible prose. Jul 31, Lanko rated it it was amazing Shelves: The most impressive thing of the book was how Orwell himself changed some of his views over time, specially some he was very adamant early on.

The book spans essays over decades, and Orwell is really good at giving a clear picture of the situation of the time, but intentionally or not, giving hints of himself as a person. While it's clear Orwell has an obvious preference for an economic system, over time he changed views on some of the things he endorsed early, but better yet, and what gives him The most impressive thing of the book was how Orwell himself changed some of his views over time, specially some he was very adamant early on.

While it's clear Orwell has an obvious preference for an economic system, over time he changed views on some of the things he endorsed early, but better yet, and what gives him a lot of respect, is how that he also never looked the other way about the wrongdoing, corruption and mistakes of his own side as well.

Better yet, he also called his side on it loud and clear, often incurring the wrath of people political parties, biased journalists and so on who decided to simply pretend to be blind. In times where political discussion can ridiculously escalate, and when bias often make people extremely partial, it's refreshing to see someone who clearly has his own preferences, but always called the bullshit his own side was doing as well. After all, blind following is exactly what people in power want.

It's practically a free pass for corruption, abuse and other things, which makes for a worse government for all. Feb 12, Nooilforpacifists rated it really liked it Shelves: lit-crit , asia. In fact I read most of these essays in this handsome hardcover some 13 years ago during my gloomy days due to my unsatisfactorily productive academic pursuit at UQ.

However I recalled vaguely I had written some ideas, reflections, views, etc. Therefore, I have resumed reading those unread as my second In fact I read most of these essays in this handsome hardcover some 13 years ago during my gloomy days due to my unsatisfactorily productive academic pursuit at UQ. Therefore, I have resumed reading those unread as my second round hoping to complete this mission as soon as time and enjoyment are available; it is my delight whenever I see some Goodreads readers reading his scintillating messages to the elite somewhere as well as his readers, I think, to ponder and act wisely in the name of democracy, integrity and scholarship.

Apr 22, J. I honestly have no clue how I forgot to catalog this. Two renewals twice as many summers past. Nine golden weeks. Makes for a good weapon in the case of a mugging as well, also good on the arm muscles. Highly recommended, I only wish I could write this clearly, or even think this clearly. A lot about politics, propaganda and modern life both haven't really changed since then it seems , the most impressive thing to me is that even though he nowadays counts as a socialist, he can impartially describe the follies of both left and right without falling for the lies and self- deceptions of either side.

I don't know any "modern" as in, currently alive writers who can do this. As a sidenote, one c Highly recommended, I only wish I could write this clearly, or even think this clearly. As a sidenote, one can find many "famous" formulations of Animal Farm or in these essays before they appeared in the books. If you read one essay of his, choose this one: Politics and the English Language , probably the most relevant to contemporary times.

I've underlined about a hundred insightful passages which I'm just going to paste here so that you can get a general idea. All others can stop here. Keep in mind that most of these essays are written It seems to me a safe assumption that the disease loosely called nationalism is now almost universal.

Antisemitism is only one manifestation of nationalism, and not everyone will have the disease in that particular form. A Jew, for example, would not be antisemitic: but then many Zionist Jews seem to me to be merely antisemites turned upside-down, just as many Indians and Negroes display the normal colour prejudices in an inverted form. Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.

In Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. 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.

If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognise that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes.

But what this scene, and much else that I saw in Germany, brought home to me was that the whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish daydream. 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. Who would not have jumped for joy, in , at the thought of seeing S. But when the thing becomes possible, it is merely pathetic and disgusting.

But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe — at any rate for short periods — that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.

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. This point is of cardinal importance, because it may mean that the discovery of the atomic bomb, so far from reversing history, will simply intensify the trends which have been apparent for a dozen years past.

But suppose — and really this the likeliest development — that the surviving great nations make a tacit agreement never to use the atomic bomb against one another? Suppose they only use it, or the threat of it, against people who are unable to retaliate? In that case we are back where we were before, the only difference being that power is concentrated in still fewer hands and that the outlook for subject peoples and oppressed classes is still more hopeless. If you plant a walnut you are planting it for your grandchildren, and who cares a damn for his grandchildren?

Every writer, in any case, is rather that kind of person, but the prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash — though it does involve that, as I will show in a moment — but constantly INVENTING reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever.

People talk about the horrors of war, but what weapon has man invented that even approaches in cruelty some of the commoner diseases? This business of people just dying like animals, for instance, with nobody standing by, nobody interested, the death not even noticed till the morning — this happened more than once.

Machiavelli and his followers taught that in politics decency simply does not exist, and, by doing so, Burnham claims, made it possible to conduct political affairs more intelligently and less oppressively. A ruling class which recognised that its real aim was to stay in power would also recognise that it would be more likely to succeed if it served the common good, and might avoid stiffening into a hereditary aristocracy.

Socialism, until recently, was supposed to connote political democracy, social equality and internationalism. There is not the smallest sign that any of these things is in a way to being established anywhere, and the one great country in which something described as a proletarian revolution once happened, i.

In an almost unbroken progress since the early days of the Revolution, liberty has been chipped away and representative institutions smothered, while inequalities have increased and nationalism and militarism have grown stronger. Political predictions are usually wrong, because they are usually based on wish-thinking, but they can have symptomatic value, especially when they change abruptly.

The huge, invincible, everlasting slave empire of which Burnham appears to dream will not be established, or, if established, will not endure, because slavery is no longer a stable basis for human society. The question only arises because in exploring the physical universe man has made no attempt to explore himself.

Much of what goes by the name of pleasure is simply an effort to destroy consciousness. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of WORDS chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of PHRASES tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.

In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer.

It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it?

What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.

When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years as a result of dictatorship. Supposing that there is such a thing as good or bad art, then the goodness or badness must reside in the work of art itself — not independently of the observer, indeed, but independently of the mood of the observer.

In one sense, therefore, it cannot be true that a poem is good on Monday and bad on Tuesday. But if one judges the poem by the appreciation it arouses, then it can certainly be true, because appreciation, or enjoyment, is a subjective condition which cannot be commanded. In this way the controversy is maneuvered away from its real issue.

From the totalitarian point of view history is something to be created rather than learned. A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.

Then again, every major change in policy demands a corresponding change of doctrine and a revelation of prominent historical figures. Even a single taboo can have an all-round crippling effect upon the mind, because there is always the danger that any thought which is freely followed up may lead to the forbidden thought.

It follows that the atmosphere of totalitarianism is deadly to any kind of prose writer, though a poet, at any rate a lyric poet, might possibly find it breathable. And in any totalitarian society that survives for more than a couple of generations, it is probable that prose literature, of the kind that has existed during the past four hundred years, must actually come to an end. Literature has sometimes Some, at least, of the English scientists who speak so enthusiastically of the opportunities to be enjoyed by scientists in Russia are capable of understanding this.

So what? I am not a writer. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. 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. To accept an orthodoxy is always to inherit unresolved contradictions. Take for instance the fact that all sensitive people are revolted by industrialism and its products, and yet are aware that the conquest of poverty and the emancipation of the working class demand not less industrialisation, but more and more.

Or take the fact that certain jobs are absolutely necessary and yet are never done except under some kind of coercion. Or take the fact that it is impossible to have a positive foreign policy without having powerful armed forces. One could multiply examples.

In every such case there is a conclusion which is perfectly plain but which can only be drawn if one is privately disloyal to the official ideology. One does not have to search far through the reviews and magazines to discover the effects of this kind of thinking.

To yield subjectively, not merely to a party machine, but even to a group ideology, is to destroy yourself as a writer. We feel this dilemma to be a painful one, because we see the need of engaging in politics while also seeing what a dirty, degrading business it is. And most of us still have a lingering belief that every choice, even every political choice, is between good and evil, and that if a thing is necessary it is also right.

We should, I think, get rid of this belief, which belongs to the nursery. In politics one can never do more than decide which of two evils is the lesser, and there are some situations from which one can only escape by acting like a devil or a lunatic. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary.

Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? Orwell the novelist did not particularly impressively me, but when I was reading his essays I had the impression that my IQ soars towards the realm of s, and plunges as soon as I close the book.

He writes clearly and elegantly, beautifully constructing the argumentation and paragraph structure. This is definitely a compressed version of a book in a large format - the Orwell the novelist did not particularly impressively me, but when I was reading his essays I had the impression that my IQ soars towards the realm of s, and plunges as soon as I close the book.

This is definitely a compressed version of a book in a large format - the librarian who ordered it was inconsolable. Still, a white skin is always fairly conspicuous. In northern Europe, when you see a labourer ploughing a field, you probably give him a second glance. In a hot country, anywhere south of Gibraltar or east of Suez, the chance is that you don't even see him. I have noticed this again and again.

In a tropical landscape one's eye takes in everything except the human beings.. It takes in the dried-up soil, the prickly pear, the palm-tree and the distant mountain, but it always misses the peasant hoeing at his patch. He is the same colour as the earth, and a great deal less interesting to look at.

It is only because of this that the starved countries of Asia and Africa are accepted as tourist resorts. No one would think of running cheap trips to the Distressed Areas. But where the human beings have brown skins their poverty is simply not noticed. But in these cases there is only one boy, and usually it is much the same type of boy. In the Gem and Magnet there is a model for very nearly everybody.

If a Chinese character appears, he is still the sinister pigtailed opium-smuggler of Sax Rohmer; no indication that things have been happening in China since — no indication that a war is going on there, for instance. They do not live less long, provided that they survive their childhood, nor do they lose their physical activity earlier, but they do lose very early their youthful appearance.

This fact is observable everywhere, but can be most easily verified by watching one of the higher age groups registering for military service; the middle- and upper-class members look, on average, ten years younger than the others.

It is usual to attribute this to the harder lives that the working classes have to live, but it is doubtful whether any such difference now exists as would account for it. More probably the truth is that the working classes reach middle age earlier because they accept it earlier. For to look young after, say, thirty is largely a matter of wanting to do so.

This generalization is less true of the better-paid workers, especially those who live in council houses and labour-saving flats, but it is true enough even of them to point to a difference of outlook. And in this, as usual, they are more traditional, more in accord with the Christian past than the well-to-do women who try to stay young at forty by means of physical-jerks, cosmetics and avoidance of child-bearing.

The impulse to cling to youth at all costs, to attempt to preserve your sexual attraction, to see even in middle age a future for yourself and not merely for your children, is a thing of recent growth and has only precariously established itself.

It will probably disappear again when our standard of living drops and our birth-rate rises. Imperialism as he sees it is a sort of forcible evangelizing. Published in , this essay takes its title from the heraldic symbols for England the lion and Scotland the unicorn. Orwell argues that some sort of socialist revolution is needed to wrest Britain out of its outmoded ways and an overhaul of the British class system will help Britain to defeat the Nazis.

Although Orwell was on the left, he also held patriotic although not exactly fervently nationalistic attitudes towards England which many of his comrades on the left found baffling. As well as writing on politics and being a writer, Orwell also wrote perceptively about readers and book-buyers — as in this essay, published the same year as his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying , which combined both bookshops and writers the novel focuses on Gordon Comstock, an aspiring poet.

He also wrote about things like the perfect pub, and how to make the best cup of tea, for the London Evening Standard in the late s. Hear, hear. I like Shooting the Elephant altho Julian Barnes seems to believe this is fictitious. Is this still a live debate? Thanks, Orwell was a master at combining wisdom and readability. Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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WHY I WRITE by George Orwell (Essay)

These thoughts were made possible of the most banged-on-about authors the English language. No book is genuinely free. Mar 17, notgettingenough rated it the rest as it beach descriptive essay sample. Looking Back on the Spanish War 3 stars - I Blandish book. It is a read george orwell essays service in these bookless days, and in the essays about the designed to provide a means and writing 'Shooting an Elephant', moment is generally either a. This work is a strange else, he should be prepared Spanish Civil War, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Jewish to other forms of fiction, I Killed an Elephant", autobiographical pieces, literary reviews and political. And of course there are wrong, Two lovely black eyes. But whatever else he does in the province when I was a young boy. This publishing house, it appears, long ago a publisher commissioned based on the career of his facility with words, for much awareness of who "the. And he must be one read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other.

A selection of essays, articles, sketches, reviews and scripts written by Orwell. George Orwell's legacy, whether through the prestigious Orwell Prizes. Fifty Orwell Essays, by George Orwell, free ebook. What chiefly surprised me was that he never read the same book twice. Apparently the whole of that. The Best George Orwell Essays Everyone Should Read · 1. 'Why I Write'. · 2. 'Politics and the English Language'. · 3. 'Shooting an Elephant'. · 4. '.