George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview
Save to active project

That is the crucial matter for Orwell: to hang on, somehow, to morality—to the moral law. He maintains it vigorously against the two major influences working today to undermine it: the belief that all things are lawful in pursuit of a political ideal, and the belief that æsthetic excellence compensates for moral obliquity. These two beliefs have corrupted the British intelligentsia. They are conspicuous in its chief organ, the New Statesman.


75.

Newton Arvin, Partisan Review

September 1946, pp. 500-4

Newton Arvin (b. 1900), former Professor of English at Smith College, author of books on Hawthorne (1929), Whitman (1938) and Melville (1950).

George Orwell is a good, swingeing critic in a familiar British tradition, the tradition of John Dennis1 and Dr Johnson, of William Gifford,2 of Macaulay and G. K. Chesterton. It is the tradition of ‘commonsensical’ criticism, of the critical broadsword and even the battle-axe of downrightness and plain dealing and no nonsense, of ‘all theory is for it and all experience against it. We have had very few, if any, such critics in this country, for Poe, in spite of his neurotic harshness, was essentially of a different kidney, and I suppose no one would maintain that Mr Bernard De Voto really qualifies. George Orwell himself is hardly a Johnson or a Macaulay, but he has a generous supply of the intellectual robustness (which must, one feels, have a physical basis), the freedom from mere abstractness, the impatience with

1 John Dennis (1657-1734) was the author of The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry (1704) and The Genius and Writings of Shakespeare (1712).

2 William Gifford (1756-1826) was notorious for his ferocious attacks on Keats and Hazlitt in the Quarterly Review.

-232-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
George Orwell: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 392

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?