George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

should not have communicated with her relations instead of spending the night on a bench in Trafalgar-square.

However, Mr Orwell is not concerned with probability in the wider sense, but with exhibiting in the strongest possible light, and with the most vivid illustrations, man’s inhumanity to man. The hop-pickers are comparatively amiable; the down-and-outs in Trafalgar-square are patient, and sometimes humorous, in their misfortunes. The disreputable Mr Warburton is good-natured, even when most satyric, and Nobby, who had been to prison four times, is, apart from Dorothy, the most sympathetic character in the story. But give a man or a woman a grain of authority and respectability, and they become, like the Rev Hare and Miss Creevy, fiends incarnate. The thesis of A Clergyman’s Daughter is neither new nor convincing; its merits lie in the treatment, which is sure and bold, and in the dialogue, which is always appropriate, and often brilliant, although (when Dorothy’s humbler friends are speaking) it has to be expressed largely in dashes and exclamation marks.


13.

V. S. Pritchett, Spectator

22 March 1935, p. 504

Victor Sawdon Pritchett (b. 1900), English critic, director of the New Statesman, author of The Living Novel (1946) and A Cab at the Door (1968).

Mr Orwell’s manner is not dissimilar, but his is a colder talent. His satire is a whip for vicarages; he is out to make the flesh of vicars’ daughters creep and to show the sheltered middle-class women that only a small turn of the wheel of fortune is needed for them to be thrown helpless among the dregs of society. Having said this, he adds that if they are like Dorothy Hare, the daughter of the Rector of St Athelstan’s, —and most of them are, according to Mr Orwell—there is no hope for them anyway.

-59-

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