Read George Orwell: A Life by Bernard Crick Free Online
Book Title: George Orwell: A Life|
The author of the book: Bernard Crick
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: August 26th 1982
ISBN 13: 9780140058567
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.73 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.8
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Re-reading this, it strikes me that I probably need to re-read most things which probably rules me out of new books for the next thirty years. A brilliant biography, complete with an introduction that should be (it probably already is) required reading for anyone contemplating writing this kind of book. Orwell requested in his Will that no biography be written, and thought that a truthful biography was impossible because "every life viewed from the inside would be a series of disappointments too humiliating and disgraceful to contemplate". He didn't get his wish, but he did get a careful biographer who goes to some lengths to check facts and conventional wisdom.
Orwell is such a giant of political literature that there's not much for me to add, perhaps save to highlight such things as:
- he was taught "rare and strange words" at Eton by a near-blind Aldous Huxley
- his ship to Burma departed from Birkenhead
- he anticipated Pulp's Common People in his tramping which he could "get out of at any time" according to a gym mistress friend of his sister
- the other names he considered were Kenneth Miles and H. Lewis Allways
- Ulysses influenced him greatly as he dismissed how it was originally received - "art implies selection...Joyce is attempting to select and represent events and thoughts as they occur in life and not as they occur in fiction"
- the nature of him and his work perhaps leads readers to see themselves in these pages, e.g. "like Dr. Johnson, his interlocutory opinions were often excessively decisive, even deliberately provocative" (Orwell as pub bore / columnist / observational comedian)
- he and H.G. Wells had the most enjoyable disagreement over lunch in which Wells was called out on his debating technique: "every time I try to tell you how, you ask me what; and every time I try to tell you what, you ask me how"
- one can only imagine how extraordinary the weekly editorial meetings of The Tribune were with Orwell as Literary Editor and Aneurin Bevan as an Editorial Director
- at a lunch he spied Kingsley Amis and asked his friend to to switch seats so that he didn't have to look at "that corrupt face"
- his values may have remained optimistic, but his expectations became pessimistic - "he was a moderate only as a means, not as an ends"
- he could deliver a mean aphorism: "at 50, everyone has the face he deserves"
Along with all this, the author manages to provide a stunningly good synopses of 1984 which "is a long premeditated, rational warning against totalitarian tendencies in societies like our own rather than a sick prophecy about neo-Nazi takeover, still less a scream of despair and recantation of his democratic Socialism."
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Read information about the authorSir Bernard Rowland Crick was a British political theorist and democratic socialist whose views were often summarised as "politics is ethics done in public". He sought to arrive at a "politics of action", as opposed to a "politics of thought" or of ideology.
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