Orwell's War-Time Diary
June 18, 2010 1:11 PM   Subscribe

“People talk a little more of the war, but very little. As always hitherto, it is impossible to overhear any comments on it in the pubs, etc. Last night, E[ileen] and I went to the pub to hear the 9 o’c news. The barmaid was not going to have it on if we had not asked her, and to all appearances nobody listened.”
On May 28, 1940, George Orwell began keeping a war time diary. Printed in “full and in chronological order” by the Orwell Trust, 70 years after he wrote them, with selected historian’s notes. Pre-war entries are a little duller, focusing on topics like recipes (macon!), the weather, gardening and farming. (Previously)
posted by stratastar (21 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this. Looks fascinating!
posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pre-war entries are a little duller, focusing on topics like recipes (macon!), the weather, gardening and farming.

I have always liked Orwell and I thank you for this FPP but this little bit just makes my day - knowing he'd have made a wonderful member of the gray
posted by infini at 1:29 PM on June 18, 2010

Pre-war entries are a little duller, focusing on topics like recipes (macon!), the weather, gardening and farming.

I didn't find the previous entries dull at all. His observations when staying in Morocco are amazing to read as he susses out the local politics and class structure.

I found it strangely poignant to have a sort of intimacy with him through his diary; I'd smile when he and I were battling the same garden pests and doing some similar planting, 70 years and an ocean apart.

And the egg laying started sounding positively absurdist after a few weeks.

This is my favorite blog in my RSS reader.
posted by desuetude at 1:41 PM on June 18, 2010

I've read Orwell's wartime diaries. What's interesting is the amount of panicking, defeatism and armchair quarterbacking he indulges in. He was a phenomenally brave man and served in the Home Guard - his solution to defeat the Nazi invasion he saw as inevitable was arming the population - but also something of a pessimist, something the war really brings out in him. But the insights into what it was like to be in London during that period are amazing, as are his observations of what people were saying, what the mood on the street was, etc. Well worth exploring.
posted by WPW at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2010

And his insights when volunteering to fight fascism and Franco can be had in Homage to Catalonia. From Amazon:
"Most war correspondents observe wars and then tell stories about the battles, the soldiers and the civilians. George Orwell--novelist, journalist, sometime socialist--actually traded his press pass for a uniform and fought against Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War during 1936 and 1937. He put his politics and his formidable conscience to the toughest tests during those days in the trenches in the Catalan section of Spain. Then, after nearly getting killed, he went back to England and wrote a gripping account of his experiences, as well as a complex analysis of the political machinations that led to the defeat of the socialist Republicans and the victory of the Fascists."

Highly recommended. Caution: heartbreaking.
posted by uraniumwilly at 2:11 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Awesome post. I've borrowed his collected letters and essays from the library, but the books are expensive to buy and somewhat hard to find.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:14 PM on June 18, 2010

I've been letting these flow by in my RSS for a couple years now. It's like multiplying the temporal space in the newsfeed.

The other one I follow is Mr Samuel Pepys, who also has been writing of unsettled times and invasions of England.. His tweets can be a bit more pithy.
posted by mwhybark at 3:21 PM on June 18, 2010

Here's a list of what's currently available.
posted by warbaby at 3:24 PM on June 18, 2010

This will orwell.
posted by srboisvert at 3:33 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Und keine eier!
posted by malaprohibita at 4:17 PM on June 18, 2010

Does anyone have an suggestions on how to get this in a complete, electronic format (ie. something I can upload to the Stanza e-reader on my phone), or is it going to be just a case of waiting for it to be blogged, day-by-day?
posted by Jimbob at 5:00 PM on June 18, 2010

posted by kuatto at 5:26 PM on June 18, 2010

Jimbob: Instapaper can produce epub output. There are probably a couple of workarounds for getting the content in a complete format, but I think it should be pretty easy.
posted by malaprohibita at 6:02 PM on June 18, 2010

Good start, malaprohibita...unfortunately, being a blog, then entries show up in reverse order in Instapaper! I might try to hack this one together myself...
posted by Jimbob at 7:18 PM on June 18, 2010

A Nice Cup of Tea
...Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round....
From this other site in the previously thread
posted by warbaby at 8:28 PM on June 18, 2010

Is there a quintessential Orwell bio? I know nothing about this man outside his fiction and essays that MeFites have posted and I think it's high time I go deep.
posted by spicynuts at 6:43 AM on June 19, 2010

Jimbob check out feedbooks.com they have a nice service to collate and push rss feeds into ereader formats...
posted by stratastar at 11:53 AM on June 19, 2010

Check these out — I love them, as an American... London Can Take It (fairly traditional pedantic and proud propaganda) and Listen To Britain, which is quite a lot more affecting to me. The stiff upper lip, the courageous resolve of these people, determined to enjoy and preserve the best of European culture, really moves me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:54 AM on June 19, 2010

Always, as I walk through the Underground stations, sickened by the advertisements, the silly staring faces and strident colours, the general frantic struggle to induce people to waste labour and material by consuming useless luxuries or harmful drugs. How much rubbish this war will sweep away, if only we can hang on throughout the summer. War is simply a reversal of civilised life, its motto is “Evil be thou my good”, and so much of the good of modern life is actually evil that it is questionable whether on balance war does harm.
posted by clarenceism at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2010

Personally, my favorite book by Orwell is his recounting of his experiences during the Dalek invasion of England in 195- oh wait, wrong universe. My bad.
posted by happyroach at 6:16 PM on June 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since it's a WordPress blog, adding "?orderby=date&order=ASC" to the blog's URL will let you read the posts in chronological order.
posted by WCityMike at 8:02 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

« Older Portrait of the Addict As a Young Man   |   Man Man: all types come out and all types turn... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments