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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,929 ratings  ·  101 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
ebook, 1424 pages
Published by Everyman's Library (first published 1984)
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Paul Bryant
Update - this just like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get next. As the dark war-torn year of 1940 begins, what does Orwell begin the year with? Why, a 50 page dissection of the work of Charles Dickens... and expressed with such breathtaking authority too :

in spite of his generosity of mind, he is not free from the special prejudices of the shabby-genteel. It is usual to claim him as a "popular" writer, a champion of the "oppressed masses"... but there are
MJ Nicholls
Numerous inadequate volumes of Orwell’s superlative essays are available from legit presses and bootleggers, bundled together under thematic pretences or skinnied down to the longer more ‘essential’ writings. This monolithic hardback includes the famous and forever pleasurable classics ‘Shooting an Elephant’ (best thing written on Burma ever), ‘Charles Dickens’ (best criticism of Dickens ever), ‘Bookshop Memories’ (best thing written on bookshops ever), and so on. Included here are the ‘As I Ple ...more
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
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
I've said it before. I'll say it again. It's Orwell. It's fantastic. I actually read a free Gutenberg version of his 50 essays, but it's much the same as this edition. A few of the essays were too political and only relevant to certain past events. A few were quite boring or about very obscure subjects. Yet the vast majority were absolutely fantastic, topical, relevant for today and incredibly well constructed. Essential reading for Orwell fans. Otherwise a condensed version of his best pieces m ...more
Abimelech Abimelech
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.
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
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
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
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
Marc Horton
I will be buried with this book. But hopefully not until after I expire.
Here's my rating for all the essays I've read:
1. Why I Write 5/5
2. The Spike 2/5
3. A Hanging 3/5
4. Shooting an Elephant 5/5
5. Bookshop Memories 5/5
6. Marrakech 5/5
7. Charles Dickens
8. Boys' Weeklies 2/5
9. Inside the Whale
10. My Country Right or Left 3/5
11. The Lion and the Unicorn 3/5
12. Wells, Hitler and the World State 4/5
13. The Art of Donald McGill 5/5
14. Rudyard Kipling
15. Looking Back on the Spanish War
16. W. B. Yeats 3/5
17. Poetry and the Microphone 5/5
18. In Defense on Engli
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
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
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.
Arun Singh
I did not (or could not) read all of the essays mainly because of the limitations of my knowledge in some of the areas (for example I have read only one Dickens book, so can't really appreciate Orwell's critique of Dickens). But whichever essays I read were masterpieces without exception. Orwell's charm lies in the simplicity with which he conveys profound ideas. These ideas are no doubt the result of how uncannily he observed and perceived the tumultuous world in which he lived. It has been rig ...more
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.
Wesley Fox
Finished 18 of the 41 essays. I wasn't really interested in the others.

First, George Orwell's plain English style is very easy to read and understand. His whole approach is to make prose readable to a wide audience, not just literary critics and English professors. He had a serious problem with the English intelligentsia for their arrogance, aloofness, and cognitive dissonance in the face of totalitarian threats.

Orwell was more of a partisan than I thought. He called himself a democratic sociali
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
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
Everyone seems to forget Orwell's essays, leaving them languishing in the shadow of his novels. Yet they are in many ways more beautiful, more thoughtful, more wonderful.

The variety of topics is brilliant, though there are a few strands of subject that can be discerned. There are many essays dealing with the critique of a single author or work, there are many works of miniature autobiography, there are some comedic discussions of British culture, there are his political writings. Yet they are h
Very interesting for the arc of Blairs thinking. From the early naive days to the later much more cagey, bitter and scale-free days.
I received this weighty book as a Christmas present, and made it my 2015 reading goal to complete it by the end of the year. Thanks to Orwell's brilliant essays, his surprisingly readable prose, and to my persistence, I finished four months early.

Most readers know Orwell for Animal Farm and 1984, and perhaps for his most famous essay, "Politics and the English Language." I was in that group, but I wanted to know more, so I dug in deeper. And this book is about as comprehensive as it gets. It is
Pat Rolston
George Orwell represents one of the greatest minds of the 20th century and his essays reflect his greatness. There is so much we can learn from the man's life experience and observations regarding the flaws and failings of people in powerful positions in general and government more specifically. He also supplies the tools to attack and remedy the failures by means of the use of accurate language combined with critical thinking. He asks of all of us that we scrutinize and question those in any po ...more
Lee Broderick
Saying that Orwell is a gifted essayist is something that is unlikely to surprise anyone. He is though; he writes persuasively on a range of political and literary topics. It's important to remember, in this sense, that the entire point of an essay is to persuade - much like an opinion piece in a newspaper or magazine (its shorter cousin) it is not to offer a balanced argument. Orwell's concerns are all too plain and leave the reader without a right to reply but only to put the book down and thi ...more
Deborah Schuff
I had known of George Orwell only through his books Animal Farm and 1984. I discovered his book Down and Out in Paris and London during a public library search for Animal Farm. That book in turn made me seek out and buy this complete collection of his essays. George Orwell was a man who read often, thought deeply, and wrote plainly about books, politics, and everyday things. Much of what he wrote and believed still has value today. He was a Socialist in that he believed that "it was right to eli ...more
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
He died in 1950, but George Orwell’s star is still rising 65 years later. Lauded for his “1984” and “Animal Farm”, his extraordinary genius was as an observer of society and as a commentator on it. His essays are as readable today as they were when they appeared seven or eight decades ago. Just a single example will do: He published in the New English Weekly on 21 March 1940 an essay on Adolf Hitler. He was provoked to write it after he read a just published new edition of Mein Kampf. Orwell’s ...more
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  • The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000
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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.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a a police officer with the Indian Imperia
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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.” 13 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.” 13 likes
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