Orwell Redux
August 21, 2006 8:52 PM   Subscribe

George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair is probably best known to readers for his eerily prescient novels 1984 and Animal Farm. This comprehensive Orwell site betrays an erudite, complex, fascinating personality who wrote about a variety of subjects, from an exposition on British class relations affecting the art and practice of murder, to the complex moral compromises of Gandhi's practice of non-violent resistance, to the doublespeak-laden corruption of the English language as a telling reflection of a corrupt, brutal, post-WWII culture — and much, much more. This site also includes Russian translations of much of Orwell's work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (21 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
As relevant today as he ever was. Not just his ideas but his style, he could really write.

Politics and the English language should be required reading as should The lion and the unicorn, for how can anyone stop reading after this introduction:

As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.

They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are ‘only doing their duty’, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any the worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil.

posted by quarsan at 9:21 PM on August 21, 2006

"Politics and the English Language" has got to be one of the greatest essays of the twentieth (or any other) century. Orwell was so ahead of his time in so many ways that it boggles the mind. Blazecock Pileon, thank you for these links.
posted by blucevalo at 9:42 PM on August 21, 2006

Brilliant post Blazecock Pileon.

Orwell has been one of my favorite authors, culture heroes and an inspiration since I first read his Collected Essays at school, when I was 17. That book was life changing for me. Especially Politics and the English Language. Of course, 1984 is an incredible, visionary work, painfully relevant now as ever before. I deeply enjoy his thinking process.

That is a strange poem though.

This is a great site you found. It collects so much into one place I feel like it's a sort of big picture of his life. I really like seeing the photographs of people he knew, his peers, family and images of his life around the world.

Unlike many authors, Orwell's writing, being pared to the bone, hasn't become dated, it's even better over time.
posted by nickyskye at 9:43 PM on August 21, 2006

Orwell has been and remains one of my favorite authors for a long, long time. One of my most prized books is an old and battered copy of essays he wrote for the Tribute between 1943 and 1945.

Thanks Blazecock, I'm gonna enjoy this one for a while!

nickyskye, I totally agree that his writing gets better and better over time. His essay/short story, Shooting an Elephant is probably my favorite short piece by him ever.
posted by fenriq at 10:01 PM on August 21, 2006

Terrific link, and if you like reading there is an enormous Everyman's Library edition of Orwell's essays (ISBN 0-375-41503-3). That book has given me a lot of pleasure, with some essays giving the feel of English life during and shortly after WWII. Making tea is a favorite, others in a similar vein are about pubs, murders, funny post cards, Woolworth's roses, and household repairs.
posted by jet_silver at 10:06 PM on August 21, 2006

oops, the murder one is in the parent post, sorry
posted by jet_silver at 10:07 PM on August 21, 2006

Quite fitting, since I just picked up 1984 yesterday, again. Thank you for the resources!
posted by blastrid at 10:36 PM on August 21, 2006

Orwell's interest in the postcards of Donald McGill piqued my curiosity, so I Googled a bit about him and found some images and more images.
posted by nickyskye at 10:56 PM on August 21, 2006

Well, now I'm going to get busted for not getting any work done (again). The links here will keep me going for ages. I've liked Orwell since I picked "The Road to Wigan Pier" from my mother's bookshelf when I was a kid and LOVED him since reading (and semi-subconsciously basing my adolescent life on) "Keep The Aspidistra Flying".
Great post, BP - thank you.

(not too much of a derail, I hope, but has anyone read Hitchens' Orwell Book? Is it any good?)
posted by bunglin jones at 11:05 PM on August 21, 2006

His adventures during the Spanish Civil War were written up in the book Homage To Catalonia. If you aren't familiar with this engaging, incredible account of fighting on the side of the anarchists, do yourself a solid and check it out.

You won't be sorry!
posted by Aquaman at 11:12 PM on August 21, 2006

Appreciative of the Russian site.
posted by RavinDave at 2:11 AM on August 22, 2006

I just wish Orwell were alive today to parse our poster's nom de plume: BLAZEcock PILEon = double trochee.

Two feet bad good!
posted by rob511 at 3:43 AM on August 22, 2006

Great link, but while we're talking about the English language: "betrays"?
posted by pnh at 5:05 AM on August 22, 2006

This is fantastic. It's a slow morning, so I have assigned this to one of my copywriters.
posted by Mister_A at 6:56 AM on August 22, 2006

I agree with everything that's been said so far. Orwell's contributions to literature and modern thought are even more astounding when one realizes that the bulk of his writings were done in a relatively short period of time.

Down and Out In Paris & London and Burmese Days are two more of his underappreciated masterpieces.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:59 AM on August 22, 2006

After reading the thread I immediately hunted A Homage to Catalonia. This post is timely because I've been planning to read more about him, and by him. 1984 and Animal Farm are more painful to me in the light of his memoir.
posted by bleary at 8:54 AM on August 22, 2006

Down and Out In Paris & London and Burmese Days are two more of his underappreciated masterpieces.

posted by blucevalo at 9:35 AM on August 22, 2006

Down and Out in Paris and London remains the best Orwell book of all time. Sadly, as it's been said here, it is totally underappreciated.
posted by parmanparman at 9:46 AM on August 22, 2006

Anyone else a little concerned that Orwell complains about the use of the passive voice by writing "the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active . . ."?
posted by Bizurke at 10:46 AM on August 22, 2006

Brilliant post, indeed, and a brilliant writer - "wintry conscience of a generation", as one British newspaper called him.

I work in the political field, and I give all my staff "Politics..." to read.

Not to derail, but it seems to me that Orwell has left a strong legacy in the plain-speaking of English political writing even today. I've often thought of Orwell when reading Francis Wheen's work: here on the top ten modern delusions, for instance, here on the monarchy, or here on Karl Marx.
posted by athenian at 11:15 AM on August 22, 2006

I also love Down and Out in Paris and London (how can anyone drink that much wine and do that much work?), but my fiction favourites are A Clergyman's Daughter and Keep the Aspidistra Flying. His bare writing is perfect for middle class despair. 'Boys' Weeklies' is also a great essay.

Excellent links! Thanks!
posted by goo at 1:26 PM on August 22, 2006

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