Top critical review
Good essays, shame about the misprints and the introduction
22 March 2018
Orwell is Orwell and a good writer, but why is the Kindle Penguin edition of the Essays littered with hundreds of misprints? It looks as though it hasn't been spellchecked, let alone proof-read, as some of the mistakes are not homonyms of anything. If paying a proper price (£9.99), I want a proper text, not "no longer runny" for "no longer funny" and "A1 Capone" for "Al Capone".
The introduction is occasionally a bit sloppy. For example, Professor Crick makes the obvious point that the use of the first person does not mean a piece of literature is true autobiography, and I personally wouldn't care if some of Orwell's apparent "autobiography" were shown to be second-hand as the Professor implies, but don't we need a) evidence and b) the application of a bit of scholarship to it? As it is, Professor Crick says it is unlikely Orwell attended a hanging, or stayed in a hospital in Paris for as long as he implies, but doesn't say why. In his main text, he plays up heavily doubts about whether Orwell really shot an elephant, but again offers no sources and relegates to a footnote the comment that he has since encountered evidence for the view that Orwell did. He says an unnamed old man once told him that it was another boy who was caned in front of the whole school for bed-wetting, not Eric Blair, "as Orwell wrote in "Such, Such Were the Joys"": in fact none of the beatings for bed-wetting is described by Orwell as happening in front of the whole school and where location is given it is the Head's study, so this looks like a straightforward howler consequent on Professor Crick neglecting to verify his references. See me afterwards, Professor Crick!