The Paradox of George Orwell

The Paradox of George Orwell

The Paradox of George Orwell

The Paradox of George Orwell

Excerpt

Three books, as well as dozens of articles, have already been written about George Orwell. All of the books are by British writers who knew him personally. Laurence Brander (George Orwell, 1954) and John Atkins (George Orwell, 1954) became acquainted with him during the War. Christopher Hollis (A Study of George Orwell, 1956) was at Eton with him and also saw him off and on for the rest of his life. Although these books have the advantage of first-hand knowledge, this knowledge is limited by the respect of the authors for Orwell's wish that there be no biography of him; they have included in their books only those facts that have been previously recorded, some of them by Orwell's friends, but most of them by Orwell himself here and there in his published work.

The facts, in brief, are these. George Orwell was born in Bengal in 1903. His father was an official in the Indian Civil Service. Both of his parents were Scottish, and he was christened Eric Hugh Blair. (When he was twenty-seven, he took as a pseudonym the name by which he is generally known, Orwell from a river in Suffolk near which he once lived, and George as a typical English name.) At the age of eight he was sent as a scholarship boy to the preparatory school on the South Coast of England which he described in the essay "Such, Such Were the joys." At twelve he won scholarships for both Eton and Wellington, and chose to go to Eton. He always said that he did no work at Eton, although he read widely among books of his own choosing, yet he managed to keep a middle place among a form of scholarship boys. Advised by his tutor not to go on to a university, he enlisted in the Indian Imperial Police. He was sent to Burma, where he served from 1922 to 1927. His experiences there furnished the material for his first novel, Burmese Days. The Indian Imperial Police had heavy duties, being responsible for detective . . .

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