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3.0 out of 5 stars The devil's in the detail: Detailed characterisation; devilish character, 5 Jan 2014
This review is from: Keep the Aspidistra Flying by Orwell, George ( Author ) ON Aug-26-2000, Paperback (Paperback)
It is a testament to Orwell's writing that I kept on turning those pages despite the sheer misery of the main character, Gordon Comstock. It's quite a test to not let this frustrating character grate on you, with the banal repetitiveness of obsession with hate and money, even if it is a (successful) device to drive home a point about capitalism and make the few high moments all the higher! Still, I'm glad I stuck with the book to the end. Orwell's vivid accounts (as usual) bring the world in 1936 to life, his direct style giving the reader a sense of immediacy, and the interesting, observed characterisation - Sometimes I felt I could really hear or see what was being described! I love his observations.

Having read several of Orwell's books recently which I'd thoroughly enjoyed, I thought I'd give this lesser known one a go. Partly due to the time it was written, but also because of the fact it is set in London (and therefore some things are assumed to be self-explanatory, unlike those books set elsewhere), some of the references escape me. Also, clearly some words are not in common usage any more (his use of 'ironically' confused me, but will look it up). Besides these largely minor barriers, many of the social observations still feel contemporary and apt (as can be said for Orwell's other books in the same vein). And therefore you can relate to it, either humorously or morbidly, or both. At the same time, I'm glad we are not in such a class ridden, prescriptive society these days!

My rating would be 3.5, somewhere between 'okay' and 'good' - A decent offering from Orwell, but not better than that because I personally found the character's ongoing self-destructive chatter painful for much of the book! In comparison, I really enjoyed Burmese Days (though the main character there wasn't a great joy either!) and Road to Wigan Pier (which drives home many of the same social class points in non-fiction form). I would especially recommend it to those who secretly (or less secretly) yearn to be a writer. And to those who 'feel' for characters a lot, this book should come with a warning that it should be read when in a good, calm mood!
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Keep the Aspidistra Flying by Orwell, George ( Author ) ON Aug-26-2000, Paperback
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