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George Orwell: English Rebel [NOOK Book]

Overview

An intellectual who did not like intellectuals, a socialist who did not trust the state, a writer of the left who found it easier to forgive writers of the right, a liberal who was against free markets, a Protestant who believed in religion but not in God, a fierce opponent of nationalism who defined Englishness for a generation.

Aside from being one of the greatest political essayists in the English language and author of two of the most ...
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George Orwell: English Rebel

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Overview

An intellectual who did not like intellectuals, a socialist who did not trust the state, a writer of the left who found it easier to forgive writers of the right, a liberal who was against free markets, a Protestant who believed in religion but not in God, a fierce opponent of nationalism who defined Englishness for a generation.

Aside from being one of the greatest political essayists in the English language and author of two of the most famous books in twentieth century literature, George Orwell was a man of many fascinating contradictions, someone who liked to go against the grain because he believed that was where the truth usually lay.

George Orwell. English Rebel takes us on a journey through the many twists and turns of Orwell's life and thought, from the precocious public school satirist at Eton and the imperial policeman in Burma, through his early years as a rather dour documentary writer, down and out on the streets of Paris and London and on the road to Wigan pier, o his formative experiences as a volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War.

Above all, the book skilfully traces Orwell's gradual reconciliation with his country, a journey which began down a coal mine in 1936 to find its exhilarating peaks during the dark days of the Second World War.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
11/15/2013
This latest contribution to George Orwell (1903–50) scholarship is a compact intellectual biography with much political and social content. Colls (cultural history, De Montfort Univ., Leicester; Identity of England) draws from Orwell's diaries and letters and consults hundreds of other works about the writer, which are cited and annotated in over 60 pages of notes. He uses the writer's "Englishness" as his underlying theme and lucidly explains the arcs of Orwell's relationship with his country. There are useful critiques of Orwell's early "angry" novels, his gradual appreciation of the working class, and the political contradictions that he never fully resolved. Colls is critical of Orwell's "unrealistic" view of the revolution and admires the author's abiding trust in the English people. He writes at length about Orwell's short book The Lion and the Unicorn, which he considers Orwell's political manifesto. Colls concludes with a survey of the critical and political claims about Orwell and briefly speculates about how he would have responded to events in the 1950s and beyond. VERDICT This volume will interest and possibly irritate those with a set point of view about Orwell. General readers will benefit from Colls's deft analysis of Orwell's writings and his attempt to pin down the author's politics. Those wanting more biographical depth should look to Gordon Bowker's Inside George Orwell and D.J. Taylor's Orwell: The Life.—Thomas Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA
Publishers Weekly
10/07/2013
In this lucid work of intellectual biography, De Montfort University cultural historian Colls (Identity of England) analyzes the political and moral evolution of Eric Blair, the self-described “Tory anarchist” better known as George Orwell. Beginning with his scholarship days at Eton, Colls tracks Orwell’s life through his work as an imperial policeman in Burma, as a reporter on labor and poverty in England, as a partisan in the Spanish Civil War, as a member of the Home Guard during WWII, and finally as a keen political observer until his death in 1950. Colls’s focus throughout is on Orwell’s political views, sorting through his ever-changing and often contradictory stances towards socialism, liberalism, Marxism, fascism, capitalism, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and more. In close readings of such essays and novels as “Inside the Whale,” Coming Up for Air, Animal Farm, and 1984, Colls teases out Orwell’s peculiar blend of leftist conservatism, supplementing the political litmus-testing with useful historical context. Throughout, Colls ascribes Orwell’s iconoclasm to his ambivalence towards his own “Englishness”—a hazily defined sense of reserve, self-confidence, eccentricity, and nationalism that Colls argues is at the root of Orwell’s moral seriousness and political prescience. Though copious footnotes and a bibliographical postscript surveying Orwell’s critical reception suggest a book meant for academics, Colls’s engaging style and frequent bursts of astringent wit make for lively reading suitable for any Orwell enthusiast. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

"Exceptionally interesting... Arresting and provocative." --DJ Taylor, The Guardian

"Colls is a lovely writer, who is fearless in a way that academics too often are not... Full of learning and insight." --New Statesman

"[A] lucid work of intellectual biography... Colls's engaging style and frequent bursts of astringent wit make for lively reading suitable for any Orwell enthusiast." --Publishers Weekly

"A compact intellectual biography with much political and social content... There are useful critiques of Orwell's early "angry" novels, his gradual appreciation of the working class, and the political contradictions that he never fully resolved... General readers will benefit from Colls's deft analysis of Orwell's writings and his attempt to pin down the author's politics." --Library Journal

"There have been many books written about George Orwell but this is surely among the best. Rob Colls has taken on the man's Englishness, his personality, warts and all, and the elusive notion that he was a rebel in his own land. It's full of zesty prose, fine insights, and a freshness of interpretation which made it a pleasure to read. It's a major achievement and a major work on George Orwell." --Melvyn Bragg

"Colls has changed our view of Orwell's life and work, and offered a fresh perspective on a pivotal period in English intellectual and political history." --John Gray, author of Straw Dogs

"A judicious and all-too-rare example of an absorbing intellectual biography undergirded by scrupulous literary scholarship." --John Rodden, editor of The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191502200
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 10/24/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 758,592
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Robert Colls is Professor of Cultural History at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is author of the acclaimed Identity of England an Observer Book of the Year.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Angry Old Etonian
2. North Road
3. Eye Witness in Barcelona, 1937
4. Mr Bowling Sees it Through
5. England the Whale
6. Not Quite Tory
7. Last of England
8. Death in the Family
Life After Death: A Bibliographical Essay
Notes
Index

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