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.

George Orwell: Selected full-text books and articles

Student Companion to George Orwell By Mitzi M. Brunsdale Greenwood Press, 2000
CliffsNotes, George Orwell's 1984 By Nikki Moustaki Hungry Minds, 2000
George Orwell's Animal Farm By Harold Bloom Chelsea House, 1999
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
George Orwell By Courtney T. Wemyss; Alexej Ugrinsky Greenwood Press, 1987
Orwell on Writing By Meyers, Jeffrey New Criterion, Vol. 22, No. 2, October 2003
The Paradox of George Orwell By Richard J. Voorhees Purdue University, 1961
George Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory By Richard Rees Southern Illinois University Press, 1962
George Orwell: Battling Big Brother By Tanya Agathocleous Oxford University Press, 2000
The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology By Daphne Patai University of Massachusetts Press, 1984
Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future By George E. Slusser; Colin Greenland; Eric S. Rabkin Southern Illinois University Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Part 2 "Orwell: An Interim Report"
Keep the Aspidistra Flying By George Orwell Harcourt Brace & Company, 1956
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell By George Orwell; Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus David R. Godine, vol.1, 2000
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell By George Orwell; Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus David R. Godine, vol.2, 2000
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell By George Orwell; Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus David R. Godine, vol.3, 2000
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell By George Orwell; Sonia Orwell; Ian Angus Nonpareil Books, vol.4, 2000
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