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Essays
 
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George Orwell
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Essays

4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,725 ratings  ·  90 reviews
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

A generous and varied selection–the only hardcover edition available–of the literary and political writings of one of the greatest essayists of the twentieth century.

Although best known as the author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four, George Orwell left an even more lastingly significant achievement in his voluminous essays, which dealt
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ebook, 1424 pages
Published by Everyman's Library (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
This is an enormous doorstop of a book, with over 1,300 pages of George Orwell’s essays. Of course that doesn’t cover everything he wrote, but it’s an awful lot. While best known for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell was probably a better essayist than a novelist. This volume contains Orwell’s best and most famous essays, printed many places (including online), like “Such, Such Were the Joys,” “Shooting an Elephant,” and “Politics and the English Language." It also includes ...more
Nick Black
man, this book is such a great old friend.
----
Orwell is skyrocketing up my list of major 20th century writers with every one of the 255 pages I've thus far read of this 1300+ page behemoth. The man was amazingly prescient, at a deep, detailed level.

This was one of the best collections of essays I've ever read, probably second only to Freeman Dyson's The Scientist as a Rebel. Across 1363 pages of essays from 1928-1949 (the vast majority of them coming from 1938-1946), written for a wide gamut of
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Mark
A few years ago I read a study about Bette Davis by someone or other. I cannot recall the name of the author or of the book but I remember very clearly how at the end I admired the skill of Davis as an actor more than I had before reading but admired her as an actual person a good deal less. You probably never thought that Bette Davis, drama queen and 'movie siren' would sit comfortably alongside George Orwell in a review and perhaps they don't, (though I have heard George did a mean Joan Crawfo ...more
Joseph Nicolello
I honestly have no clue how I forgot to catalog this. Two renewals twice as many summers past. Nine golden weeks. Makes for a good weapon in the case of a mugging as well, also good on the arm muscles. Indispensable.
Michael
The work in this book shines a searchlight on the British and British intellectual life.
Subjects illuminated include : the end of colonialism, British politics, World War 2, British people and class, the British inter-war intelligentsia, and more.
The essays are each a learning experience; some have to be waded through for a while before the lessons start to emerge... all are worth the trouble. I was actually excited as I read this book, things kept slotting into place for me, I feel a more compl
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Penny
A brilliant set of essays, providing great insights into Orwell's world -- the end of colonialism, the rise of fascism and Stalinism, the evolution of British society. I read Orwell's essays in college (in fact, I may have read some in high school), and have usually carried a volume around with me since. Orwell has been one of the most influential people in the shaping of my own world view.

So many great essays -- in "Politics and the English Language," Orwell talks about why so many political t
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Martin
Already a year (or just about) has gone by since I started this 1366-page collection, reading a few essays here and there, in between other books, and while I really liked reading about Orwell's thoughts on a variety of subjects, I'm glad I'm done reading this book. Now I can move on to something else.

Some thoughts, then:

This book is best enjoyed when read in small doses. That way you can (1) avoid getting bored/annoyed with a seemingly endless string of essays, (2) take the time to reflect on
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Katie
There are a few authors that you are forced to read in school, or that you know the name of, even if you haven't read them. They are considered 'good' or 'important writers' and after a while they get the stigma of people only reading them because they want to sound impressive. So they can say for example, oh yes I've read Shakespeare, or oh yes The Grapes of Wrath, I've read that. And I always watch myself because I know part of me wants to read books by people like this, simply so I too can sa ...more
Veronika Cukrov
As relaxing as this might be to read, it is (precisely for the fact) nothing more than mediocre, self-evident journalism lacking philosophical aspects which would contribute to these articles becoming real essays (which they aren't).
Orwell fails to reach (perhaps purposely) to the core of the problem and prefers to columnistically explore the current (at the time of writing, of course) geo-political situation leading him to unfounded conclusions and a couple of strategic guesses regarding near-f
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Marc Horton
I will be buried with this book. But hopefully not until after I expire.
Philipp
Highly recommended, I only wish I could write this clearly, or even think this clearly. A lot about politics, propaganda and modern life (both haven't really changed since then it seems), the most impressive thing to me is that even though he nowadays counts as a socialist, he can impartially describe the follies of both left and right without falling for the lies and (self-)deceptions of either side. I don't know any "modern" (as in, currently alive) writers who can do this.

As a sidenote, one c
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Ann
Indispensable and important to me in a beyond-words kind of way. I read every single essay in this sucker -- with joy in my heart, I might add -- and am so glad I didn't just pick my way through the appealing-sounding ones, but for you picker-throughers (i.e. non-insane people), here are the best offerings from the best writer of non-fiction of ever, nothing less than a unintentional primer on how to write, think, and act like a human being. You're welcome, and Happy New Year!

A Hanging
Shooting a
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John
Orwell's essay about killing an elephant is brilliant. It is so common for readers to encounter the Essayist as Hero, where the essayist prevails, has an epiphany, cleverly solves a problem. But in Orwell's essay, he makes some great points, without setting himself up as a hero. Just the opposite. He doesn't sugarcoat the actual incident or his true motivations; and that is what makes the essay so powerful.
Blair
I've been dipping into this on and off for most of this year and finally finished it. Orwell can come across as a bit insufferable at times on various topics, not least because of his conviction that he's right and everyone who thinks differently is an idiot. He does have the saving grace of quite often being right, though. And he's always entertaining.
Robert Arbon
Wonderful collection of essays by George Orwell. His style is plain and direct but not boring - he knows how, and most importantly, when to construct imaginative phrases and sentences. The impression forefront in my mind after finishing this book is that Orwell is a writer or complete honesty. His thoughts and feelings on everything from toads in the spring time to the life in the Spanish Civil war are communicated directly and with strong sense of conviction. He has a particular talent for usin ...more
Tim
I slowed down my bulimic reading speed for this book, as I soon found I wanted to savour and, if possible, digest each piece.
This was a return to Orwell for me after a long break, as I'd read most of his book-length output (i.e.e the novels, apart from Aminal Farm, and the social/political reportage) in my late teens, before comprehensively losing the taste for what started to seem to me dour, overworthy and dated.
I'm glad I didn't read the essays at that stage, since it let me come to them fres
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Andrew
Very interesting for the arc of Blairs thinking. From the early naive days to the later much more cagey, bitter and scale-free days.
Adam19
Reading this book of George Orwell's essays has been an intellectually invigorating experience. It has placed my political beliefs in perspective and I feel a certain kinship with the author. I know that reading published materials is different from reading a person's journals or the recollections of that same person's friends, but if you consider George Orwell a literary figure separate from Eric Blair, it is possible to take what is written in a narrower context.

The essays represent a politica
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J.T.
I've read both 1984 and Animal Farm, but neither of those books impressed me as much as Essays did.

To those readers most familiar with 1984 and Animal Farm, the descriptive power, clarity of argument, intellectual honesty and relevance of this collection of essays may come as a surprise, but this single volume contains some outstanding writing that is of immense value in understanding the human condition in general and the first half of the twentieth century in particular. While many essays such
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Tim
Fascinating & rich because it's so long and covers such a variety of themes, giving a coherent and fairly full picture of the mind of Orwell. I won't go into any great specifics, in a 1-page reaction to a 1400-page book.

Sometimes (to start with the semi-downsides) he's trite and/or sentimental, as in various pieces on Christmas, the ideal English pub, etc., as well as in frequent passing remarks on non-things like "the English character". But weaknesses are part of any full picture and add t
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Lis
Interesting - Orwell's reflections on many topics. He is a very good writer, and very well-read (eg his essay on Dickens - it's clear he's familiar with ALL of Dickens' books. And similarly with the writings of many other writers).

The essays are presented in chronological order (of publication) - ranging from 1931 to 1949. So it includes the Spanish civil war, and also Hitler, the leadup to WWII etc. It's clear that Orwell becomes quite discouraged at the prospects for civilization -- he starts
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James
Orwell is better as an essayist than he is as a novelist, which is already saying something considering his skill as the latter. This collection of essays is quite an eclectic mix, with a range of topics that has you jumping from more light-hearted musings, such as those on English culinary creations or the common toad, to extremely dark, pertinent issues, such as the sufferings of the poor or the role of colonial powers. However, there is always one element tying all of these topics together: O ...more
Renate
Brilliant! The second time I read this and it will probably not be the last.

It was a reading of Politics and the English Language on the radio that first introduced me to Orwell's essays. I was pottering around the kitchen one day when a reading of that essay came on the radio. I can remember stopping what I was doing and just listening in awe.

I am giving only 4 stars instead of the 5 that it actually deserves because his obsession with fascism and socialism sometimes distorted what would have o
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Andrew Rosner
Some years ago, I had a chance to take part in a seminar in effective business writing. The moral was simple - the more direct your prose is, the better. If one were to look for a good example of this axiom, I don't think you could do much better than this collection of Orwell's essays. Orwell wasn't just a good essayist; he was superb. Never a wasted word, but more importantly, never a word put down without having thought out his aims first. These essays range from the tongue in cheek ("In Defe ...more
Kurt
I read and loved 1984 and Animal Farm in high school, but I knew almost nothing more about their author until I found this Everyman's Library collection. I love the books in this collection, with the elegant covers and the little gold bookmarks and the low prices, so I picked out this book, more or less on a whim. I loved it. It's a hulking monster of a collection, with 1300+ pages of Orwell's observations during, just before, and just after WWII. Orwell's devotion to socialism in pervasive but ...more
Michael McGuinness
This is one of my absolute favourite books and my copy is quite dog-eared, for the simple reason that I am able to read Orwell's essays over and over again. I much prefer them to his novels.
I first became aware of his essays in a small collection, published some years ago, called Decline of the English Murder and other essays. This volume contains those essays and several others.
Here are the highlights for me: "Boy's Weeklies". "Inside the Whale". "The Lion and the Unicorn". "The Art of Donald
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Jamyang Phuntsok
A friend of mine, a voracious reader, didn't read essays -one of his idiosyncrasies, I used to think, along with his preference for a pen and a paper over computer when writing. I can see his point a bit now though I am not sure if it is indeed his point. In any case, a case could be made for essays requiring less intellectual effort from the reader. They are ready-made for consumption, the writer has done all the thinking for you. So, in a way, not high-brow enough. But that's good enough for m ...more
Khairul H.
Excellent collection of Orwell's essays including my particular favourites where he writes about books: 'Book v. Cigarettes', 'Confessions of a Book Reviewer' and 'Bookshop Memories'.

Orwell argues and defends maligned personalities like Wodehouse, Kipling and Gandhi with deftness and a droll wit. His essay on Dickens is also credited as one of the reasons the Victorian author has not been relegated to obscurity today when his books were all but ignored by critics in Orwell's time.

His 'Decline
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Bill
I have no idea how similar this is to the edition I have on my Kindle, which I can't find anywhere on Goodreads for some reason. In any event, my copy seems to have 30 or 40 essays in it, including Shooting An Elephant, The Lion and the Unicorn, and etc etc etc.

If you care at all about politics, read these essays. He writes lucidly from a time when writing an "objective" newspaper was impossible, when ideology repeatedly ripped at the task of truth telling. It's reassuring stuff if you're still
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Lupeng Jin
Apart from Animal Farm and 1984, George Orwell wrote a lot of other essays concerning the reviews of politics, books and magazines under the circumstances of pre-WWII and during-WWII. Some points of his to Communism are still sharp and they clearly reflect the reality in P.R China, in terms of so-called Writing & Publishing policies in particular. What a crazy country!
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary ed
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More about George Orwell...
1984 Animal Farm Animal Farm / 1984 Down and Out in Paris and London Homage to Catalonia

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“To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.” 12 likes
“The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable"...In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.” 12 likes
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