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Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Jun 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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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 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Anyone who wants to understand the twentieth century will still have to read Orwell (Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback 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 the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating collection of Orwell's masterful best: from political opinion, artistic debunking, and breathtaking personal insights, to hillariously frank descriptions of Boys' weekly comics and the virtues of saucy seaside postcards!
Be amazed, as Orwell opens your jaded eyes to the bizarre writing foibles of Charles Dickens - things about the esteemed author you thought you knew so well. Be stunned by Orwell's deeply moving personal experiences, in 'Shooting an Elephant' and 'A Hanging', accounts of human frailty that made me shudder with a deep sense of recognition. Have the myths of Public School life exploded for you in 'such, such were the joys' as Orwell escorts you through the darkly repressed world of his boyhood education.
There are so many treats and revelations in this book, that you are able to dive in at random and be suddenly immersed in that lost world of the pre and post war years. The politics may have changed, the fashions, the doctrines, may have all faded or become obselete, but what Orwell does - in breathtakingly frank and beautifully simple language - is to reveal to us how little humanity itself has altered. The vanity and hypocracy we find within, still have an all too fresh ring to them. But Orwell refuses to give up our species' and its eternal drive for understanding and self-improvement; positive attributes that Orwell instills into so much of his scathing honesty and subtle attack.
'Essays' can be enjoyed on so many levels: from a one-man history lesson, to a vivid collection of snapshot opinions that you can delight in, debate or decry. Or perhaps, like me, you will eventually give up on the socio-political analysis and the search for cryptic symbolism, and simply end up enjoying a quite wonderful book.
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