George Orwell. (in the Margins)

Article excerpt

"He faced the competing orthodoxies and despotisms of his day with little more than a battered typewriter and a stubborn personality."--Christopher Hitchens, in Why Orwell Matters

WHAT WOULD GEORGE ORWELL HAVE THOUGHT of the state of the world today, in 2003, the hundredth anniversary of his birth? It's a question best asked of any of a number of biographers. Stacks of books about Orwell are being released for the occasion, just as fresh editions of the author's own work are rolling out. Here are a few examples:

The Girl From the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell by Hilary Spurling

The life of Orwell's controversial second wife--talented editor, great beauty and the inspiration for the character Julia in 1984. Bottom Line: A gossipy defense of the woman Orwell biographers love to hate.

Scenes From an Afterlife: The Legacy of George Orwell by John Rodden

A respected Orwell scholar on how legions of admiring Orwellians have used and abused the writer's legacy. Bottom Line: A useful guide, but for Orwell addicts only.

Orwell by Scott Lucas

A short, highly critical and handsomely illustrated biography by a writer suspicious of Orwell's politics. …