Student Companion to George Orwell

Student Companion to George Orwell

Student Companion to George Orwell

Student Companion to George Orwell

Synopsis

Written with students and general readers in mind, this volume examines George Orwell's powerful fictional writing, as well as his provocative documentaries and essays. Students will gain an appreciation for the many levels of meaning in the allegorical Animal Farm and the startlingly prescient 1984. Brunsdale does a masterful job of showing how personal and world events came together in Orwell's writing. A carefully drawn biographical chapter examines the development of Orwell's worldview from his impressionable student days to his later years as he struggled with his health, his political identity, and his literary career. The literary heritage chapter traces Orwell's influence as a truth-teller and reviews the literary influences that inspired Orwell to experiment and continually refine his writing style. Individual chapters provide in-depth but accessible analysis of each major work of fiction and nonfiction including the often-anthologized essay "Shooting an Elephant" and Orwell's first full-length publication Down and Out in Paris and in London. In addition to plot and character development, considerable attention is given to the historical contexts and the thematic concerns of social injustice that drove Orwell to devote his life to his writing.

Excerpt

George Orwell believed that a writer's subjects were determined by his times. If he had lived before the Industrial Revolution, he wrote in 1935, he might have happily settled down as a vicar in a rural England that still revered its old truths and traditions--the comforts of the countryside, the decency of fellow human beings, the certitude of knowing good from evil--and he might have written gently descriptive works about that peaceful world (CEJL 1:1-7). But Orwell lived in the brutal first half of the twentieth century, when soulless machines--locomotives and automobiles, mines, mills and factories, munitions and armaments--and the profiteers they enriched, changed England and the world forever. Despite his natural inclination to satisfy his writer's ego, his sense of beauty, and his urge to set the truth out for posterity, impulses that he believed motivate every writer, Orwell's times forced him to defend freedom by writing from political purpose. For him, liberty meant telling the truth, the objective truth which people usually don't want to hear. Starting in 1936, with many of his countrymen misled by Soviet communism, he relentlessly attacked totalitarianism, especially the Soviet variety, even though in those days criticizing any government whose propaganda described it as socialist was like spitting on the tablecloth (Wain 31). In the process, Orwell turned political writing into an art.

It cost him dearly. Already gravely ill in 1946, he began his most demanding work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the novel that turned "Orwell," his pen name, into "Orwellian," today a description of totalitarian terror. He compared his . . .

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