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Essays (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) Hardcover – 1 Oct 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1416 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (1 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375415033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375415036
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 6.4 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,199,802 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


"Orwell is the most influential political writer of the twentieth century...He gives us a gritty, personal example of how to engage as a writer in politics." -"New York Review of Books""[Orwell] evolved, in his seemingly offhand way, the clearest and most compelling English prose style this century...But of course he was more than just a great writer. We need him today because [of] his passion for the truth." -"The Sunday Times "(London) "Had Orwell lived to a full term, he might well have gone on to become the greatest modern literary critic in the language. But he lived more than long enough to make writing about politics a branch of the humanities, setting a standard of civilized response to the intractably complex texture of life." -"The New Yorker" "The real reason we read Orwell is because his own fault-line, his fundamental schism, his hybridity, left him exceptionally sensitive to the fissure-which is everywhere apparent-between what ought to be the casep --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

A volume, comprising around 250 pieces: the deifinitive collection of Orwell's essays. In a beautifully bound, hardback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Mike Cormack on 7 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
In some ways Orwell was most suited to the art of essay writing; his most successful novels always had political motivations, and his deceptively plain, matter-of-fact style (like a window pane, as he said) helped him convey his ideas to the reader with ease.

Orwell was one who had greatness thrust upon him. His great works and essays are stimulated by the convulsions of the rise of fascism and World War II - obviously "Animal Farm" and "1984" but also some magnificent essays. These include "The Lion And The Unicorn", his glorious, stirring analysis of the national character and the prospects of socialism after the war; his analysis of party-line thinking, in which he works out the metaphysics of "double-think"; his dissection of James Burnham's book on the "managerial revolution" with interesting comments on the world splitting into three power blocs; and "Reflections On The Spanish Civil War".

Other essays are more personal - his scathing memoir of his school days, "Such Were The Joys"; the delightful "Some Thoughts On The Common Toad"; "Hop Picking", one of his earliest attempts to document working-class customs; and "Shooting An Elephant", a wry look at imperialism. He also looks at literary matters (he was the literary editor of "Tribune" for some years) with equal clarity and lack of verbosity, unusual in literary analysis, with "Politics and the English Laguage" and "Why I Write". ("Sheer egotism" as he frankly admits!).

This is an exceptional book, to be read and savoured by all. A real delight.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rocketman on 17 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of the Folk thinking of buying this book will be familiar with him already; between that fact and his reputation, it seems a little silly to base this review on what is said within the essays and works herein. What then warrants the five star reputation then? Well, Its inclusiveness and scope, the passion (for Orwell) with which it has been compiled, and the physical decency of the volume.

Taking the first point first, this essay compilation includes far more of Orwell's writings than the other common compilations available. Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays is itself a fine compilation, but seems, after leafing through the Everyman's Library essay compilation, to be lacking some important essays: "The Lion & The Unicorn" and "Notes on Nationalism" to name just two though dozens more could be listed. Also, the Everyman's edition includes Orwell's writings for Tribune, namely his column "As I please".

To the second point then, this edition contains a little note from the editor on the inside sleeve and a little timeline of Orwell's life, along side which major political events and literary works of the time, are included. The essays themselves are printed in chronological order, which is a lovely touch

Lastly, it is a relatively dinky hardbound edition, with the typical Everyman's "Livery". It comes with a golden tassel stitched to it as a sort of in-house bookmark, and all is printed in a decent font, in a print which isn't too small.

To my mind, the most significant drawback is that this edition feels a little cramped, that is to say new essays are started without a page break, and the essays where a Orwell is setting out categories for things or subheadings,a line break would create a more spacious feel.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Ryan on 20 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most comprehensive collection of George Orwell's essays - the best part of his writings - currently available. It contains as far as I can tell everything that you might want of these works from the political "Notes on Nationalism", "The Lion and the Unicorn" to the personal such as his lovely essay on the pleasures of gardening "A good word for the Vicar of Bray".

Orwell's style throughout is direct and engaging. It's also very English. Has there ever been a more English writer? It is particularly satisfying to see the essays that reflect this side of his nature - "In defence of English Cooking" or the famous essay on the perfect pub "The Moon Under the Water".

As a well produced hardback, this book is a pleasure to own.
My only caveat would be that its comprehensiveness makes this a bulky volume. For portability I would buy the Penguin Modern Classics "Essays" which has a very fine selection. Ideally buy both!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JWNRTJ on 26 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This volume, comprising around 250 pieces, is as exhaustive a collection of Orwell's essays as there is. It is worth having if only because it includes 'The Freedom of the Press', intended as the preface to 'Animal Farm' but suspiciously undiscovered until 1972 and excluded from practically every other anthology, yet considered by Noam Chomsky Orwell's most important essay.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The merit of the actual essays is somewhat overstated, but they are extremely interesting as historical texts - rather like the writings of J B Priestley, to whom O is sometimes compared. The stars are really for this edition, which is huge and good value for money.
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