George Orwell's Flawed Genius

By Evans, Lloyd | The Evening Standard (London, England), May 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

George Orwell's Flawed Genius


Evans, Lloyd, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: LLOYD EVANS

A superb new biography exposes an icon's deep inadequacies GEORGE ORWELL by Gordon Bowker (Little, Brown, pound sterling20) LLOYD EVANS

ORWELL is rare among great writers in that it's never been chic to dismiss him. "Oh, I haven't got round to Orwell yet," is an unimaginable boast, although you might hear the same said of Dickens or Jane Austen or even Tolstoy.

Orwell's reputation is so secure and his imagined world so deeply embedded in ours that it seems fruitless to examine his creative personality further.

Surely we know everything about him already. Gordon Bowker's invaluable new biography sweeps that thesis aside.

Here is George Orwell, the flawed, vulnerable, irrational and inadequate human being.

One imagines him as a man of great common sense but at Eton the young Orwell (or Eric Blair) was fascinated by the occult. He used sympathetic magic to avenge himself on an older boy, Philip Yorke, with whom he had a feud.

He constructed a lookalike doll and ripped off its limbs. A few weeks later, Yorke broke his leg. The following year he died of leukaemia. For the rest of his life Orwell was plagued by guilt.

As he grew older, the contradictions in his nature multiplied and deepened.

He went tramping in his twenties but his appearance didn't fool everyone. A female friend recalls: "He didn't look in the least like a poor man. God knows he was poor but the formidable look didn't go with the rags."

His memories of life among the destitute became the classic Down and Out in Paris and London. He had endless trouble getting it published.

The book was rejected by TS Eliot, who felt that it lacked narrative unity.

In fairness to Eliot the manuscript at that stage was called Confessions of a Dishwasher.

Orwell loved the outdoor life.

He had a biologist's knowledge of the natural world. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

George Orwell's Flawed Genius
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.