Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Collection of Essays by George Orwell

I had read about George Orwell as being one of the great political commentators of his age but had read nothing other than "1984" and "Animal Farm." In this collection of essays, he discusses his years at a boarding school, shooting an elephant as a colonial policeman in Burma, his thoughts on Gandhi, Kipling, Dickens and a fellow who produced lewd post cards. He also discusses his time fighting in the Spanish Civil war, his time in Marrakech, England during the war, and why he writes. I've not mentioned a couple other of the articles because they were redundant or referenced so many people we don't know that the point he was making was not made or would not be of interest to any blog reader.Although his point of view is at least 60 years separated from today, there are things that stand out to make this a worthwhile read. He appears to view a topic as best he can without serious bias, even though he was a socialist and critic of many in power or in fashion. His thoughts are so clear and unvarnished in a way I seldom have run across that they are startling in their freshness and power to persuade. The world he described in "1984" is addressed repeatedly in these essays, with an eye to viewing humans as they are and that power corrupts, regardless of the ideology of those who wield it.I am sure he irritated almost everyone at one time with these essays because he views everyone as realistically as he can, warts and all, even though he may also have an affection for the subjects. Indeed, I would have hated to be his enemy because those he professed to admire were still noted for each of their shortcomings. Still, this was a good read and one where I want to go back later and reread, especially his article on Kipling (a good bad poet) and England during the war. As well written a collection of essays as I can remember reading.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

This sounds really interesting. I love 1984 and Animal Farm. I'll look into picking this one up at the library. Thanks!