George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER

1937 (1st American edition 1958)


27.

Victor Gollancz, Foreword

1937

The Road to Wigan Pier (London: Gollancz, 1937), pp. xi-xxiv. Victor Gollancz (1893-1967) was Orwell’s first publisher.

This foreword is addressed to members of the Left Book Club (to whom The Road to Wigan Pier is being sent as the March Choice) and to them alone: members of the general public are asked to ignore it. But for technical considerations, it would have been deleted from the ordinary edition.

I have also to make it clear that, while the three selectors of the Left Book Club Choices—Strachey, Laski1 and myself—were all agreed that a Foreword was desirable, I alone am responsible for what is written here—though I think that Laski and Strachey would agree with me.

Why did we think that a Foreword was desirable? Because we find that many members—a surprisingly large number—have the idea that in some sort of way a Left Book Club Choice, first, represents the views of the three selectors, and, secondly, incorporates the Left Book Club ‘policy. ’ A moment’s thought should show that the first suggestion could be true only in the worst kind of Fascist State, and that the second is a contradiction in terms: but we get letters so frequently—most interesting and vital letters—which say: ‘Surely you and Laski and Strachey cannot believe what So-and-So says on page so-and-so of Such-and-Such a book, ’ that there can be no doubt at all that the misconception exists.

The plain facts are, of course, (a) that the three selectors, although

1 John Strachey wrote about Orwell in The Strangled Cry (London, 1962), pp. 23-32. For Laski see the headnote to No. 30.

-91-

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