George Orwell

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Overview

The making of literary reputations is as much a reflection of a writer's surrounding culture and politics as it is of the intrinsic quality and importance of his work. The current stature of George Orwell, commonly recognized as the foremost political journalist and essayist of the century, provides a notable instance of a writer whose legacy has been claimed from a host of contending political interests. The exemplary clarity and force of his style, the rectitude of his political judgment along with his personal integrity have made him, as he famously noted of Dickens, a writer well worth stealing. Thus, the intellectual battles over Orwell's posthumous career point up ambiguities in Orwell's own work as they do in the motives of his would-be heirs. John Rodden's George Orwell: The Politics of Literary Reputation, breaks new ground in bringing Orwell's work into proper focus while providing much original insight into the phenomenon of literary fame.

Rodden's intent is to clarify who Orwell was as a writer during his lifetime and who he became after his death. He explores the dichotomies between the novelist and the essayist, the socialist and the anti-communist and the contrast between his day-to-day activities as a journalist and his latter-day elevation to political prophet and secular saint. Rodden's approach is both contextual and textual, analyzing available reception materials on Orwell along with audiences and publications decisive for shaping his reputation. He then offers a detailed historical and biographical interpretation of the reception scene analyzing how and why did individuals and audiences cast Orwell in their own images and how these projected images served their own political needs and aspirations. Examined here are the views of Orwell as quixotic moralist, socialist renegade, anarchist, English patriot, neo-conservative, forerunner of cultural studies, and even media and commercial star. Rodden concludes with a consideration of the meaning of Orwell's life and work for the future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A remarkably thorough examination of how Orwell's reputation has grown over the four decades since his death....This is a book that all future Orwell scholars will need to consult and take into account." —New York Times "The most remarkable book I have yet read on how reputations come into being... A pioneer work in its genre, teaching us how little fame is usually dependent on the nature of a writer's achievement." —Toronto Globe and Mail
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765808967
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/15/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 536
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

John Rodden is professor of rhetoric at the University of Texas at Austin.

John Rodden is professor of rhetoric at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Preface
Introduction. Appraising Famous Men: Mediating Biography and Society 3
Pt. 1 Anatomy of Reputation
Ch. 1 Orwell into the Nineties 15
Ch. 2 Terms of Repute: Conditions, Constraints 53
Pt. 2 The Portrait Gallery
Ch. 3 The Rebel 103
Ch. 4 The Common Man 171
Ch. 5 The Prophet 244
Ch. 6 The Saint 322
Conclusion: "Tuppence for the Opinion of Posterity": The Intellectual Hero in History 399
Acknowledgments 406
Notes 407
Terms of Repute: A Glossary 465
Index 497
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