Despite the commonplace view that Animal Farm was aimed exclusively at Stalinist Russia, it was far more broadly focussed and the similarities between aspects of the novel and Trump's America are obvious. 'Not only the parallels with the current President, but also by those who feel that his cult of personality is a mandate for collective nastiness. 'Doublethink' features in Nineteen Eighty Four and it is the forerunner to 'Fake News'.
Aside from Orwell's importance as a political theorist and novelist his life in its own right is a beguiling narrative. His family was caught between upper middle-class complacency and uncertainty, and Orwell's time at Prep School and as a scholarship boy at Eton caused him to despise the class system that spawned him despite finding himself unable to fully detach himself from it.
His life thereafter mirrored the history of his country; like many from his background he devoted himself to socialism as a salve to his conscience. He died at the point when Britain's status as an Imperial and world power had waned.
An interest in him endures, principally because it is difficult to differentiate between the man who recorded the terrible events of the depression and the Spanish Civil War as an observer and the fiction writer who used literature to predict grim possibilities and diagnose horribly endemic inclinations. No other British writer of the 20th century has blended ideas, political commentary and literary art in such a manner.
For an author whose work has been regarded as the most important in terms of the turbulent years of the mid-20th century and who eroded the boundaries between literature, journalism and political commentary, there have been relatively few attempts to present a vibrant portrait of the man behind the writings. Fifteen years (closer to eighteen when this book appears) is a long time for the absence of a life of one of one of the best-known authors of the twentieth century.
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About the Author
He has been on the longlist for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, has written for The Spectator and The Sunday Times and has been interviewed on his work for various BBC Radio Arts Programmes, as well as appearing on the Channel 4 Series 'Writers in their Own Words', talking mainly on Martin Amis and the post-1960s generation of British novelists. The BBC TV programme 'Through the Lens of Larkin', in which he appeared, was inspired by his The Importance of Elsewhere. Philip Larkin's Photographs.
His biography of Ernest Hemingway The Man Who Wasn't There was published in October 2018 by I.B. Tauris
Richard Bradford is Research Professor in English at Ulster University, Northern Ireland and Visiting Professor at the University of Avignon, France.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgements ix
1 The Misfit and the Pure Hell of St Cyprian's 5
2 Eton 19
3 Burma 34
4 Slumming it 52
5 Was Orwell an Antisemite? 65
6 Hopeless 83
7 Books, Marriage, and the Journey North 101
8 Spain and Serious Politics 127
9 Between Wars 154
10 War 165
11 Explosive Journalism 178
12 Changes 200
13 Animal Farm 210
14 Jura 220
15 Nineteen Eighty-Four 231