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Diaries Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846553296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846553295
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.3 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 632,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George Orwell is one of England's most famous writers and social commentators. Among his works are the classic political satire Animal Farm and the dystopian nightmare vision Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was also a prolific essayist, and it is for these works that he was perhaps best known during his lifetime. They include Why I Write and Politics and the English Language. His writing is at once insightful, poignant and entertaining, and continues to be read widely all over the world.

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there.

At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.

It was around this time that Orwell's unique political allegory Animal Farm (1945) was published. The novel is recognised as a classic of modern political satire and is simultaneously an engaging story and convincing allegory. It was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which finally brought him world-wide fame. Nineteen Eighty-Four's ominous depiction of a repressive, totalitarian regime shocked contemporary readers, but ensures that the book remains perhaps the preeminent dystopian novel of modern literature.

Orwell's fiercely moral writing has consistently struck a chord with each passing generation. The intense honesty and insight of his essays and non-fiction made Orwell one of the foremost social commentators of his age. Added to this, his ability to construct elaborately imaginative fictional worlds, which he imbued with this acute sense of morality, has undoubtedly assured his contemporary and future relevance.

George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

Product Description


"All the diaries of Orwell that are still extant were first published in 1998 by Peter Davison and included in his monumental edition of The Complete Works of George Orwell. They are now conveniently regrouped here in one volume, excellently presented and annotated by Davision" (Simon Leys New York Review)

Book Description

The authoritative text of George Orwell's diaries, collected in one volume for the first time

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Constantin ROMAN on 11 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Edited by Peter Davison, Publ: Harvil Secker
ISBN 9781846553295
1931- 1949 (sourced from ten original diary notebooks)

I bought Orwell's Diaries thinking that I could glean more information about his philosophical conversion from Spanish Republicanism to what had become later a lucid critic of left-wing dictatorship. It appears, sadly that two notebooks of diaries covering the Spanish Civil War have made their way into the archives of the NKVD (The Soviet Secret police) and are under lock and key to this day.
Clearly even after his demise Orwell's writings are considered by some still seditious.

I came across the works of Orwell, oddly enough behind the Iron Curtain in Romania, as a teenager enduring the harsh neo-Stalinist dictatorship of Gheorghiu-Dej, the national-communist predecessor of Nicolae Ceausescu.

This was no mean feat and a curious one at that: The classic '1984" Novel was translated in French and serialised in the popular French weekly "Paris Match" which was embargoed in Romania, under severe censorship restrictions. However, by a miracle, my private French teacher in Bucharest had a former servant who was a cleaner.maid at the French Embassy in Bucharest and without doubt a secret service agent. This woman who was barely literate spoke no french and brought home these magazines merely because she found the illustrations attractive. My French teacher, a cultivated lady from the former Romanian aristocracy, who was educated in Switzerland and fell on hard times after being expropriated, borrowed these magazines and transcribed by hand the whole of Orwell's 1984 novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stuey on 17 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
People who have read and enjoyed George Orwell's works will find a great deal to interest them in these diaries. The books and essays bring us George Orwell the `writer'; these diary entries bring us Orwell, (or to be precise, Eric Arthur Blair) the `individual'. They are a revealing glimpse into an intriguing mind.

Orwell tended to write as if his life depended on it and he invariably put his views across in as straightforward and plain-speaking a manner as possible. Even his reviews of other writers' works seem to be suffused with his own need to put down on paper the expansion of an argument or line of thought. Here in these diaries we see this familiar tendency but we also see in his `Domestic Diary' (of which more later) how this almost obsessive part of his personality played its role in his day to day life.

There are a number of diaries included in the book. The selection begins with the `Hop-Picking Diary' from 1931, (many of the events therein being used in `A Clergyman's Daughter'), then moves forward to 1936 and `The Road to Wigan Pier Diary'. This gives a detailed insight into the famous journey he took to expose the living and working conditions suffered by the working classes in the north of England during the thirties, including his trips underground to investigate what working life was really like for the miners. Reading it gives us an opportunity to see Orwell gathering some of his source material for the book and also demonstrates the discomforts and indignities he often willingly put himself through to do so.

The `Morocco Diary' covers late 1938 and the first quarter of 1939. Orwell and his wife went there following advice he received to spend winter in a warmer climate after he suffered illness in 1938.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Hayes on 4 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
I found these diaries fascinating. It may come as a surprise to some that Orwell kept such extensive diaries; it was to me! I'm a diarist myself and have six volumes of diarist anthologies. Orwell is mentioned in only two: a collection of war diaries; and via his fictional diarist, Winston Smith, in "1984". It seems that Orwell kept diaries for most of his adult life. Unfortunately some have been lost, although a couple are believed to be hidden in Russia. The first records his hop picking days in Kent in the early 1930's. I had read this one before; as a life long resident of Kent (and a 1950's child hop picker, with my mother)I came across it many years ago in the "Local Studies" section of my public library. The next is the diary he kept while collecting material for "Wigan Pier". Particularly interesting was the working of Working Men's Clubs: I'm secretary of mine, and nothing has change! By 1938 he is back in Kent again, being treated for TB. During one of his walks, he comes across a smooth snake - I thought that these rare animals only existed in the West Country! Then comes his period of recuperation in in Spanish Morocco, and once again he is observing everything - people, nature, agriculture, the local press, everything - and writing it all down. There follows the diaries he kept leading up to the Second World War, and the ones he kept in London, during the blitz. Deemed unfit for miltary service, he joined the Home Guard. At this time he was formulating his ideas for an English Revolution and actually considered the Home Guard to be a revolutionary force - imagine, Captain Mannering as Che! He also believed that much of the aristocracy would sell out to Hitler if they could. One surprise here for me (and I could be wrong) - some of his comments appear anti-semetic.Read more ›
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