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Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Jun 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183060
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,917 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

About the Author

George Orwell's brilliant reporting and political conscience formed an impassioned picture of his life and times. Orwell was born in India and educated at Eton. He served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927. He returned to England where he lived for several years in poverty. Among Orwell's books are DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON, BURMESE DAYS and THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER. He is best known for the allegorical fable ANIMAL FARM and in the novel NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.

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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Guy reid-brown on 7 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Meet the best prose writer in the English language (along with pre war P. G. Wodehouse) This is how to do it - access to a vast vocabulary, a mastery of grammar and syntax (and the determination to apply it) and a comprehensive knowledge derived from a deep and wide reading - all applied lightly, with a complete lack of pretension, and with the divine gift of irresistibly Good Humour (as opposed to the deliberately crude and savage kind) - so no hesitation in bracketing him and Wodehouse together.

But where Orwell scores above any other writer in his league was how much hard experience he had accumulated in his short life to set against his insights and opinions - a Police Officer in Burma, a slum dweller in Paris, a tramp in London, a wounded combatant in Spain - so that when he speaks, you listen.

With his clear uncluttered prose he conjures up worlds - a nauseating slum hospital in Paris, the Technicolor kingdoms of Seaside Postcards and Boy's Weeklies, his hellish Preparatory School in Eastbourne.

As to be expected, his analysis of Art and Literature - from Dali to Henry Miller to James Hadley Chase - is always worth reading, but perhaps more surprising is his love of nature and the English Countryside. But it was the latter that grounded him and provided a contrast to what he dedicated his life to opposing - Totalitarianism. `They' don't want you to enjoy the simple pleasures in nature (see `Some thoughts on the Common Toad')

Of course, being Orwell, Politics runs throughout all this, but don't be deterred - whatever your political orientation, this is a man who will always discuss, not harangue.
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165 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Penguin Egg on 15 April 2002
Format: Paperback
Orwell is as likely to go down in history as an essayist as he is as a novelist. The clarity of his style is matched only by the clarity of his thought. Orwell’s belief in using language correctly, in order to transmit ideas, rather than to obscure them, is as essential to his idea of freedom as is democracy. He thought that the English language was in a bad way and set about to correct it in ‘Politics & the English Language.’ “The English language,” says Orwell,” becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts…. Modern English is full of bad habits…If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration.” Lazy language – pretentious diction, meaningless words, and cliché - was a mask for lazy thinking. He would have been aghast at the abundance of modern jargon or the ‘spin’ put on news stories by politicians today, both of which is to either hide up the paucity of genuine ideas or to mislead the public. For Orwell, to speak, and just as importantly, to write, clearly are important for the political process. These ideas were, of course, to feed into his novel, 1984, with its use of Double Speak, to say one thing while thinking another. We recognise these words and phrases all too well: People’s Democracies for Communist dictatorship; pacification for mass murder and terror; We, the people for We, the ruling elite; and Protecting democracy for Defending our financial interests.
When people think of Orwell, they remember him as an anti-Communist and a defender of liberal democracy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback
In these by times highly emotional essays written in the 1930s and 1940s George Orwell gives us with in depth analyses his personal viewpoint on the literary, political and socio-economic scene.

In literature, he sees the novel as `a Protestant form of art, a product of the free mind, of the autonomous individual.' Orwell's aim was to `push the world in a certain direction: a battle against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism.'
In his criticism he searches for the essential (hidden) message of the author.
Dickens's rather naïve creed is: `If man would behave decently, the world would be decent.' His ideal is `a hundred thousand pounds, a quaint old house, a sweetly womanly wife, a horde of children and no work.'
Henry Miller's books are `a passive acceptance of decay and evil.'
H.G. Wells dreams of a utopian World State.
R. Kipling is a jingo imperialist, but he didn't understand that `an empire is primarily a money-making concern'.
W.B. Yeats is in essence a defender of feudalism, `a great hater of democracy and of human equality, of the modern world, science, technology and the concept of progress.'
A. Koestler's main theme is `the decadence of revolutions owing to corrupting effects of power.'
P.G. Wodehouse's real sin is to present the English upper classes as much nicer than they are.
In `Gulliver's Travels', J. Swift delivers a frontal attack on totalitarianism and shows that he is a disbeliever in the possibility of happiness.

Orwell's view on world matters is rightly `no Law, only Power'.
Nationalism is inseparable from the desire for power.
The concentration of the media in the hands of a few rich men puts the freedom of the press and intellectual liberty under attack.
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