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A Collection of Essays

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  2,792 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
George Orwell's collected nonfiction, written in the clear-eyed and uncompromising style that earned him a critical following



One of the most thought-provoking and vivid essayists of the twentieth century, George Orwell fought the injustices of his time with singular vigor through pen and paper. In this selection of essays, he ranges from reflections on his boyhood schooli
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Paperback, 316 pages
Published 1981 by Harvest (first published 1954)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 07, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
The best collection of essays that I’ve read so far.

14 well-written essays by Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950) also known as George Orwell. It covers a wide range of topics from his childhood, Spanish Civil War, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Jewish religion, politics, etc to his shooting of an elephant while serving as a police in Burma. Perfectly-written in his trademark direct, clear and taut writing the style that I first encountered in his political satirical sci-fi 1984 and
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Randy
Mar 26, 2012 Randy rated it really liked it
Given the 70+ years that have passed since the publication of most of these essays, I've weighted my evaluation of this collection toward those essays that still retain some relevance.

And granted, there is some seriously anachronistic stuff here. Some real snoozers that are stuck so firmly in time and place that only the most devoted anglophiles or Orwellians would be interested ('The Art of Donald McGill', 'England Your England', 'Boys' Weeklies').

But the majority of essays are written with ter
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William1
Sep 13, 2016 William1 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20-ce, uk, nonfiction, essays
Selected essays. I thought the essays here on Dickens and Kipling were revelations. About ninety percent of the essays cited by other authors that I have read are included here. I also particularly liked "Inside the Whale," a paean to Henry Miller's masterpiece, Tropic of Cancer.
notgettingenough
Oct 24, 2015 notgettingenough rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
Having discussions lately about the topic that keeps academics in business, I guess: what is literature as opposed to other forms of fiction, I'd like to give access to this Orwell essay as a meaningful point of departure. I feel like I keep talking and arguing without any lines/definitions/meanings in place.

Good bad books. Essay by George Orwell. First published 2 November 1945.

Not long ago a publisher commissioned me to write an introduction for a reprint of a novel by Leonard Merrick. This pu
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David
Nov 01, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
Orwell writes so well you want to give him a standing ovation. This collection contains several classic essays -- "Shooting an Elephant", "Politics and the English Language", "Such, Such were the Joys" (memories of his schooldays) -- as well as amazing pieces on Dickens, Kipling, and the state of literature in the 1930s ("Inside the Whale"). Whether writing about the English national character, analyzing the content and effect of popular comics for boys, or explaining his own compulsion to write ...more
Farah Al-Shuhail
Feb 22, 2014 Farah Al-Shuhail rated it really liked it
لم أندهش كثيراً عندما اكتشفت للمرة الأولى أن سبعين بالمئة من مجموعة المقالات هذه مألوفة أو سبق لي الإطلاع عليها، ذلك أن هذا ما يحدث عادةً حين يقودك هوسك بآراء كاتبٍ ما إلى شراء أي كتاب يحمل اسمه على غلافه دون أن تكلف نفسك عناء تصفحه أو القراءة عنه. فتجد نفسك أمام خيارين لا ثالث لهما، إما أن تعيد قراءة المقالات التي - لسوء حظك - انهيت قراءتها قبل عدة اسابيع فقط، أو أن تضع الكتاب على الرف دون قراءته ويتملكك حينها شعور بأن الكاتب غاضب عليك وسيرسل أشباحه لمطاردتك. وإن كان لا بد من وجود جانب مشرق، فا ...more
Ned Ryerson
Jul 29, 2008 Ned Ryerson rated it really liked it
If you ask me, essays are George Orwell's true talent. And I'm not just saying that because I think essays are da bomb or because I think Animal Farm is an overrated piece of caca. The thing that makes essays difficult to write is the ever-present "who cares?" question. All an essay really is is the musings of a man (or woman) written down. So, who cares? Why do I care what this guy thinks about whatever? Ahhh, but in the hands of a talented writer, who by their very nature must also be a talent ...more
Dhari Buyabes
Dec 23, 2014 Dhari Buyabes rated it really liked it
As much as I enjoy Orwell's fiction, I also enjoyed reading this non-fiction book. While fiction and non-fiction are entirely different genres, Orwell excels in both. Actually, I noticed that some essays have ideas which Orwell developed later in his fiction.
My favorite essay is "Politics and the English Language." It's about that meaningless pretentious language in politics and the humanities. He writes about its absurdity and how some politicians use it to confuse their listeners. I liked h
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Linda
Aug 08, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing
I went for Orwell's six-part essay on Dickens first since I am rereading Bleak House right now. I've decided to get down these thoughts, and break GR's rules, before reading the rest of the book.

In the first paragraph of the fifth section, Orwell's got my number. He is aware, says he, that any fan of Dickens is by now angry at him. I am a fan of Dickens, I was annoyed by his assessment of Dickens' status as nothing but a "moralist".

“Dickens's criticism of society is almost exclusively moral. He
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Jaime
Oct 21, 2015 Jaime rated it it was amazing
Entre otras cosas, aprendí a hacer un buen té.
Fazrin Khairulsaleh
Oct 20, 2016 Fazrin Khairulsaleh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiksi
Kumpulan tulisan Orwell ini layak untuk dibaca. Di dalamnya ia membicarakan banyak tema yang disusun dengan dinamis. Cerita yang paling kusuka dari buku ini saat Ia membahas pengalamannya sebagai aktor imperialis di India, lewat kisah pembunuhan seekor gajah.
julieta
Oct 03, 2016 julieta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, brits
I had been wanting to read essays by Orwell for a while, and I was not disappointed. On the contrary, I loved his angle on such varied subjects as Dickens, Gandhi, the war, England, colonialism, the Spanish war, society. I will be searching for more of him, I did skip a couple which did not interest me at all, like comic postcards, but the ones I did read made the book absolutely worthwhile.
Jessica
Jul 19, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
This anthology is a spectacular collection of Orwell's best essays and what struck me while reading it was the vast array of topics that Orwell took as his subjects. In Such, Such Were the Joys, Orwell narrates his experiences (often miserable) as a "scholarship boy" at an elite prep school. The essay starts with a description of humiliation - Orwell began wetting his bed a few weeks after his arrival at school - and continues on this theme throughout. To Orwell, humiliation is not a unique emot ...more
Mahendranath Ramakrishnan
Oct 28, 2015 Mahendranath Ramakrishnan rated it it was amazing
George Orwell, as we all know, was one of the greatest political writers ever. He tackled the social issues of the day magnificently in his works. British Imperialism, WWII, and class struggles.. don't think any of Orwell's contemporaries could have written about those subjects more hard hit-tingly than him. This book is a collection of his acclaimed essays on a myriad of subjects. His prose is very powerful. Orwell never beats around the bush.

The book begins with the Orwell describing his chil
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Nurulfitroh
Jul 12, 2016 Nurulfitroh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beberapa penderitan seabad yang lalu tidak jauh lebih buruk di abad ini. Penyakit psikologis manusia hanya berubah pada tahapan istilah, yang mungkin sedikit lebih luas namun semakin sulit. Kebanyakan perilaku dan bagaimana kita memandang dunia didasari oleh beberapa dorongan karena tidak ingin terlihat bodoh, obsesi yang berlebih, dan berbagai dorongan primitif yang bahkan tidak ingin kita sadari. Meluangkan waktu untuk dunia yang dibangun oleh manusia (dengan harapan pembebasan dan iming-iming ...more
Szplug
Jul 20, 2016 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such Were the Joys : Three-and-a-half stars, rounded up due to the savvy Orwellian marriage of literary craft with recollected misery. It truly makes the Canadian public educational system—one which I experienced from the broad perspective of four different provinces—appear paradisaical in comparison. If I could, I'd reach backwards in time to send poor Eric Blair the comforting gravelly timbre of Steve Earle.

Charles Dickens : Four stars, and serious impetus via a critical encomium of a true E
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Alex
Dec 15, 2010 Alex rated it liked it
Since this is a collection of essays, I can safely note some observations.

The first essay in this collection really reminded me of how good an author Orwell was. However, I was rather lost throughout the second essay since it was a review itself of Charles Dickens, who I have not read very much. The next couple of essays also deal with more topical issues which I had a harder time being interested in.

That being said, the two essays in the middle of the book are very interesting. "Shooting an Ele
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Christina
Mar 17, 2009 Christina rated it liked it
Orwell's essays could be word-dense and tough for my ADD mind to get through now and then, but his observations are deep, interesting, and still ring true today. I found myself compulsively dog-earring pages with particularly compelling insights I know I will want to re-examine later.

Additionally, his views on books I've already read were at times so interesting that I ended up pulling the old books down off the shelves and cycling them back into my "to read" pile- especially ones I hated the fi
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John Doe
Jan 23, 2013 John Doe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I really liked the first essay about his experience with school as a young boy. I used to wet the bed too, but I can only imagine how embarrassing that must have been at boarding school. He was an excellent student, but his successes were occasioned by periods of absolute stupidness. Wonderful.

Also, I am attracted to his moral clarity even though I do not always share his conclusions (I don't particularly want to go to Spain to fight the fascists).

Orwell's fiction is a bit political for me, bu
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Sarah
Jun 04, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Home to the greatest two Orwell essays ever written: "Why I Write" and "The Politics of the English Language."

Every time I read "Why I Write" I feel I should put away the personal attraction to writing erotica and insanity, violence and soap opera drama, in exchange for a more nobler purpose. I would be kidding myself, though, for that is what I write, but who better than Orwell to show me who I am?
Vinnie Duvall
Oct 08, 2015 Vinnie Duvall rated it really liked it
This was my first crack at Orwell. I now see what all the fuss is about. Superb, direct and clear style. Should really be five stars, but I did find myself disengaging and losing interest in 3 or 4 of the essays.I would suggest that was the fault of my at times lax brain and not the fault of the writers skill. Highly recommended. Excellent stuff.
Katie
Aug 26, 2008 Katie rated it it was amazing
So far su-per! "Inside the Whale" LITERALLY knocked my socks off (haha!)! Would that we were all so clear-headed (and unafraid of creating and sustaining gigantic, unwieldy metaphors, and smart enough to get away with it) as Mr. Orwell.
Rob
Mar 29, 2009 Rob rated it it was amazing
His essays and reviews are some of the best in the English language
Diocletian
Such, Such were the Joys...
This essay is about Orwell's school years and also somewhat of a criticism of the educational system of the time. A section that I found particularly amusing was on how the English treated the Scottish Highlanders: "The pretended belief in Scottish superiority (At Orwell's school; they had an obsession with Scotland) was a cover of the bad conscience of the occupying English, who had pushed the Highland peasantry off their farms to make way for the deer forests, and t
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John
Jan 15, 2009 John rated it it was amazing
Orwell at his best - his essays on Dickens was truly brilliant.
Jake
Sep 25, 2011 Jake rated it really liked it
When it comes to politics, I worry about free will. To what degree are your politics the product of the environment in which you were raised? I would like to believe that I am a liberal because liberal social and economic policies are more moral or correct than conservative policies in some objective way. Certainly these seem more rational and "true" to me. But what if I'm a liberal just because I grew up in Park Slope, that most liberal milieu? What if the facts are only facts because I've been ...more
kapil
Pure Orwellian wisdom. The essays are from particular time and place and tell you about the English civilisation in that period (such as you will encounter his analysis of some of the writers of that era or the mention of USSR sympathy among the British left in that period) but also the universal truths of human civilisation and politics as a whole such as freedom of press or echo-chamber of Leftists. The process of knowing the literal history is always spiritual. Orwell does that with utter wis ...more
Leslie
Apr 29, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
I always feel bad putting the same labels of "really liked it" on books that have totally different purposes. It is particularly distasteful to think that "really liked it" might imply that I equate good mystery novels and good literature. That distinction is particularly important here. The importance of this book is much greater than any mystery novel. It challenged me and gave me new ideas. It fell a bit short of changing my life, is all.

That said, let me describe its contents:
"Such, Such Wer
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Ian
Nov 15, 2016 Ian rated it liked it
It's all over the place, but that is to be expected in a collection like this. Some are long winded and really try your patience but each is littered with insight, although somewhat dated, especially when taking about colonialism. It would be served to provide a little context for many of these as well. I Admittedly skipped finishing a couple that I found tiresome, but that doesn't mean if advise against it, just don't feel obligated to read every word of you find one particular day boring becau ...more
Denise Sudbeck
Oct 22, 2016 Denise Sudbeck rated it really liked it
I've been searching for good examples of essay writing and so included this work of George Orwell. From the Spanish Civil War through the vagaries of British culture to fascist Germany, Orwell offers a sometimes scathing critique of writers and their culture.

In the end he even admits his own failure as a writer but wistfully adds that he always had an idea what he wanted to write. Failure or not, his muse (every muse worth having) is political and there is no point to avoiding it.
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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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“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.” 29 likes
“There are books that one reads over and over again, books that become part of the furniture of one’s mind and alter one’s whole attitude to life, books that one dips into but never reads through, books that one reads at a single sitting and forgets a week later:” 23 likes
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