Geoffrey Gorer, Time and Tide
30 April 1938, pp. 599-600
Geoffrey Gorer (b. 1905), friend of Orwell; English social anthropologist; author of Africa Dances (1935) and Himalayan Village (1938).
George Orwell occupies a unique position among the younger English prose writers, a position which so far has prevented him getting his due recognition. In a period of literary groups he has remained fiercely individualist, in a period of literary affectations he has developed a prose style so simple that its excellencies pass unperceived, in a period of lip service to collective ideas and ideals he has maintained passionately his own integrity and independence. Born a member of the ruling class, the consistent attitude of his novels and autobiographical works—Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier, and now Homage to Catalonia—has been an indignant repudiation of the warped and miserable lives that his class has forced on the majority of the people it dominates. This repudiation has been emotional and not rational; he has cried his disgust in his novels so forcibly that they are almost unbearable, he has set himself against the majority, because he has felt the horrors of oppression and exploitation, not (at any rate primarily) because he has reasoned about them. His political ideas have been, to a certain extent still are, naïve; he has repudiated Authority in any form, Marxist, Fabian or Conservative, relying on what he himself has seen and thought and felt; and because today the general reaction to any political situation is identification with an existing outlook, this personal and political protestant integrity is, if only as a corrective, of extraordinary value.
Homage to Catalonia is that phœnix, a book which is at the same time a work of first-class literature and a political document of the greatest importance. In December, 1936, George Orwell went to Barcelona, primarily with a view to writing articles. He did not go with the intention of fighting—for like the rest of us he knew little of the