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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Careful Research and Lots of Opinion, 23 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: George Orwell: English Rebel (Hardcover)
If you're interested in what Orwell might have been thinking at almost any stage of his life or what would have happened if he hadn't died in 1950 then this is the book for you. For example we are encouraged to wonder what he would have thought about the life of a shelf-stacker, or how far he would have taken his suspicion of left intellectuals. You get the impression that Colls doesn't particularly like Orwell if you judge by the prejudicial language he occasionally falls back on. 'International Brigade Communists had been street-fighting Franco in Madrid while Orwell had been safely tucked up in his grocery' gives an indication of the style, of which there are other examples. So I conclude here that we're somewhere in the battle to reclassify Orwell post hoc as something that he wasn't, and given the distance since his death and a speculative approach almost anything is possible. It is worth remembering that Orwell wrote 'every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it' and 'I have come to the conclusion that it is futile to be anti-Fascist while attempting to preserve capitalism'.

It is clear that a lot of research has gone into the writing of this book. Of the 330 pages almost 100 are taken by the Notes and the Index.

On my copy of this book the back cover includes praise from John Gray and in the book the final paragraph includes 'Today the major exponent of prime Orwell political writing (...) is John Gray'. I think Orwell would have appreciated that.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Jan 2015 13:16:35 GMT
Frustrated says:
Thank you for that review, a very helpful one, in fact better than 'professional' reviews I've seen, and much more compact. I expect you're being ironic when you say that Orwell would have appreciated John Gray being described as his foremost exponent. I'm sure he wouldn't have. Orwell is the kind of writer that should be read straight, like drinking a dram of whisky.

MR
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