George Orwell

George Orwell, pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair, 1903–50, British novelist and essayist, b. Bengal, India. He is best remembered for his scathingly satirical and frighteningly political novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. After attending Eton, he served (1922–27) with the Indian imperial police in Burma (now Myanmar). He returned to Europe in 1927, living penuriously in Paris and later in London. In 1936 he fought with the Republicans in the Spanish civil war and was seriously wounded. His writings—particularly such early works as Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), Burmese Days (1934), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and Homage to Catalonia (1938)—are highly autobiographical.

Orwell was a keen critic of imperialism, fascism, Stalinism, and capitalism, all of which seemed to him forms of political oppression, and although he espoused a sort of socialism, he refused to be formally associated with any ideology or party label. His works are concerned with the sociopolitical conditions of his time, notably with the problem of human freedom. Animal Farm (1946) is a witty, satirical fable about the failure of Soviet-style Communism, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) is a prophetic novel describing the dehumanization of humanity in a mechanistic, totalitarian world. Orwell's other novels include A Clergyman's Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), and Coming Up for Air (1940). The master of a superbly lucid prose style, Orwell wrote many literary essays, which some critics find superior to his novels. His volumes of essays include Dickens, Dali and Others (1946), Shooting an Elephant (1950), and the Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (4 vol., 1968, repr. 2000).

See S. Orwell and I. Angus, ed., The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (4 vol., 1968, repr., 2000); P. Davison, ed., The Complete Works of George Orwell (20 vol., 1998), George Orwell: A Life in Letters (2010), and Diaries (2012); S. Orwell and I. Angus, ed., The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters (4 vol., 1968, repr. 2000); biographies by B. Crick (1980), M. Shelden (1991), J. Meyers (2000), G. Bowker (2003), and D. J. Taylor (2003); A. Coppard and B. Crick, ed., Orwell Remembered (1985); studies by J. Meyers, ed. (1975), R. Williams (1981), L. Hunter (1984), R. Alok (1989), J. Rodden (1989, repr. 2002), and C. Hitchens (2002).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Student Companion to George Orwell
Mitzi M. Brunsdale.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Understanding Animal Farm: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents
John Rodden.
Greenwood Press, 1999
George Orwell's Animal Farm
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1999
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
George Orwell
Courtney T. Wemyss; Alexej Ugrinsky.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Discusses "Nineteen Eighty-Four" in multiple chapters
The Road to Wigan Pier
George Orwell.
Berkley Publishing, 1961
Coming Up for Air
George Orwell.
Harcourt Brace and Company, 1950
A Clergyman's Daughter
George Orwell.
Harcourt, Brace, 1960
The Paradox of George Orwell
Richard J. Voorhees.
Purdue University, 1961
George Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory
Richard Rees.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1962
George Orwell: Battling Big Brother
Tanya Agathocleous.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future
George E. Slusser; Colin Greenland; Eric S. Rabkin.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Part 2 "Orwell: An Interim Report"
George Orwell: An Age Like This, 1920-1940
Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus; George Orwell.
David R. Godine, vol.1, 2000
My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943
George Orwell; Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus.
David R. Godine, vol.2, 2000
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell
Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus; George Orwell.
David R. Godine, vol.3, 2000
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell
Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus; George Orwell.
Nonpareil Books, vol.4, 2000
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator