George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

I’ll tell you [he says] what my stay in Lower Binfield taught me…. It’s all going to happen. All the things you’ve got at the back of your mind, the things you’re terrified of…the bombs, the food queues, the rubber truncheons, the barbed wire, the coloured shirts, slogans, the enormous faces, the machine-guns squirting out of bed-room windows. It’s all going to happen.

Well, we know what happened. We know that the boy who predicted that Britain would ‘emerge a second-rate nation’ from World War I was one of the millions who helped prevent those guns from squirting out of English windows in World War II. Does this make him, as some critics have inferred, a false prophet, a man who, because he was born in India and educated at Eton, didn’t know that those incapable of looking like gentlemen are as capable as any gent of behaving like heroes? It is more likely that Orwell, just because he knew and loved the Bowlings so well, loathed and feared ‘the streamlined men’ so much, felt no cry of warning could be uttered too loud.


53.

Charles Rolo, Atlantic Monthly

March 1950, pp. 78-80

Charles Rolo (b. 1916), American editor of Psychiatry in American Life (1963) and The Anatomy of Wall Street (1968).

Shortly before his recent death George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, received the first Partisan Review Award ‘for a significant contribution to literature, ’ given not for a single book but ‘for a distinguished body of work. ’ Orwell’s writing, the Partisan Review observed, ‘has been marked by a singular directness and honesty, a scrupulous fidelity to experience that has placed him in that valuable class of the writer who is a witness to his time. ’ This tribute tidily sums up the essential quality of the three pre-war novels by

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