George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

scale of values but in point of time! Understand that, and the long horror that we are enduring becomes at least intelligible. All the considerations that are likely to make one falter…fade away and one sees only the struggle of the awakening common people against the lords of property and their hired liars.

Orwell tended always to see human beings as symbolic figures in a social pattern; and he was moved to these remarks by the memory of a P. O. U. M. militiaman in Spain, seen as a symbol of ‘the flower of the European working class, harried by the police of all countries. ’


99.

Angus Wilson, Observer

24 January 1954, p. 8

Angus Wilson (b. 1913), English novelist, Professor of English at the University of East Anglia, author of Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (1956) and The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot (1958).

The esteem, the affectionate respect in which George Orwell was held grew very rapidly in the few years immediately before and after his death. It has hardly diminished since. The circumstances of his life had made him a détraqué1 English intellectual, at once familiar with the inner sanctum of the intelligentsia and yet not quite on the respectable visiting list; his temperament made him prefer to cock a snook through the windows at the mandarins inside, even after they were prepared to give him the place of honour at dinner. From this vantage point, he saw more clearly and earlier what was happening to the English intellectual world than the most sensitive member of the cosy little family group inside. He saw them threatening Hitler and refusing the arms to make their threats real; he saw them swooning over Spanish heroism and ignoring the terrible reality; he saw them flirting coyly with Stalin and frowning when Siberia was mentioned.

1 Unconventional.

-318-

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