George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

too good-natured and spirited for that—but into one who felt too painfully the ugly pressure of society upon private virtue and happiness. His own literary tastes were fixed—with a discernible trailing of the coat—in that boyish period: Bret Harte, Jules Verne, pioneering stuff, Kipling and boys’ books. He wrote the best English appreciation of Dickens of our time. Animal Farm has become a favourite book for children. His Burmese novels, though poor in character, turn Kipling upside down. As a reporting pamphleteer, his fast, clear, grey prose carries its hard and sweeping satire perfectly.

He has gone; but in one sense, he always made this impression of the passing traveller who meets one on the station, points out that one is waiting for the wrong train and vanishes. His popularity, after Animal Farm, must have disturbed such a lone hand. In 1984, alas, one can see that deadly pain, which had long been his subject, had seized him completely and obliged him to project a nightmare, as Wells had done in his last days, upon the future.


90.

Arthur Koestler, Observer

29 January 1950, p. 4

Arthur Koestler (b. 1905 in Hungary), friend of Orwell, author of Darkness at Noon (1940) and The Yogi and the Commissar (1945).

To meet one’s favourite author in the flesh is mostly a disillusioning experience. George Orwell was one of the few writers who looked and behaved exactly as the reader of his books expected him to look and behave. This exceptional concordance between the man and his work was a measure of the exceptional unity and integrity of his character.

An English critic recently called him the most honest writer alive; his uncompromising intellectual honesty was such that it made him appear almost inhuman at times. There was an emanation of austere

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