George Orwell Essay

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You cannot read a piece like Bookshop Memories without immediately conjuring up the bad suits and rank smell of dead cigarettes.

They could not have been written about any other country on earth.

It is there like a comforting cup of tea in Decline of the English Murder.

Both belong to a time when – seen from this distance – English life appears to have been more settled, less commercial, more neighbourly and less racked by uncertainty of purpose.

And, the utterly perfect sentence: ''An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him.'' Being Orwell, of course, the event is put to political purpose, demonstrating the futility of the imperial project.

He has already told us that ''every white man's life in the East was one long struggle not to be laughed at''.

He has changed the meaning of our language plenty of times — every time we refer to our dystopian present as Orweillian, with thought police and big brother watching us, we’re citing the power of Orwell’s work.

Here are several choice essays, by Orwell and writers openly influenced by him, that wrestle with the world as Orwell saw it, both yesterday and today.

But here it is, with many of the characteristic Orwell delights, the unglamorous subject matter, the unnoticed detail (''a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature'') the baleful glare, the profound belief in humanity.

Because what the piece is really about, of course, is not the toad itself, but the thrill of that most promising time of year, the spring, even as seen from Orwell's dingy Islington flat. How one longs for him to have lived long enough to be let loose on the lads' mags culture of the early twenty-first century. The abundance of the mass media offers a greater choice than ever.


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