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The Road to Wigan Pier

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  6,202 ratings  ·  341 reviews

In the 1930s Orwell was sent by a socialist book club to investigate the appalling mass unemployment in the industrial north of England. He went beyond his assignment to investigate the employed as well-”to see the most typical section of the English working class.” Foreword by Victor Gollancz.

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Published January 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 1937)
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Riku Sayuj

The Road to Wigan Pier & 1984: A Parallel Analysis

Commissioned fortuitously in the period when Socialism was on the retreat and Fascism on the rise, Orwell must already have begun to glimpse the world which he was to envision with vigorous clarity in ‘1984’. This review is a dual review then, of ‘1984’ and of ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.

Written ostensibly as a documentary-report on the life of the working classes in the industrial towns of england, Orwell uses his reportage to investigate two c
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B0nnie
The Road to Wigan Pier FAQs

Back in the days when I hung out in that other dimension called usenet, I wrote several *FAQS* for alt.books.george-orwell (alas, now dead, a repository for villainous spam - RIP):

Q & A with George Orwell:


B: Will you tell us about the Brookers, the people with whom you stayed for a while in Wigan?

O: Of course - mind if I smoke? - Mrs Brooker was too ill to do anything except eat stupendous meals, and Mr Brooker was a dark, small-boned, sour, Irish-looking man, and
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Barry Pierce
Alright Georgie I get what you're saying, being poor in the 30s was really fucking awful. I loved the way you wrote about the industrialisation of the north of England and your views on a Socialism and the such but ugh why did you write this one so... unenjoyably? It felt like I was reading a 200-page Guardian column. I had to force myself through certain parts, not because they were boring or anything but because of the way you went about writing this thing. The content is A+ but the experience ...more
Hadrian
The Road to Wigan Pier is a book in two parts, both observant and fiery. This is one of Orwell's lesser-known works, but still one of his better ones. It surpasses Burmese Days and might almost reach Homage to Catalonia.

The first part is a visit to the coal-mining areas up north, and a chronicling of the miners' lives. It's reminiscent of Engels' Conditions of the English Working Class, but with less statistics and more coal mining, and the social conditions of the miners themselves. Here, he ha
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Kim

Orwell was commissioned to write this book by his publisher Victor Gollancz, a campaigner for left-wing causes and the founder of the Left Book Club. It comprises two journeys. The first finds Orwell in investigative journalist mode, as he embarks on a physical journey amongst industrial workers in the economically depressed north of England, investigating and describing the causes and symptoms of poverty. The second is a journey of the mind, which takes the form of a long essay in which Orwell
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Tristessa
In the first half of The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell catalogues his participant/observation of the economically deprived North of England focusing on squalor, pollution and hardship during the Depression. Wigan Pier is a dystopic bleak vision of degrading capitalism - without his study, 1984 would not have existed. As political polemic in the second half, he provides the solution; Socialism. Orwell, fully aware of his own upper middle class prejudices, set to challenge his own feelings of disgust ...more
Jonfaith
Much like Hemingway's lost satchel or Genet's samizdat manuscripts, I'll piece this together from jumbled memories. How's that for hubris?

The Road To Wigan Pier was amongst the best books I've read this year. The route established by Orwell is more sinuous than expected. He examines a lodging house and then travels to the pits themselves. He finds valor in those who toil. He doesn't patronize.

He ponders the unemployment issue in England. He busts myths. He unrolls lengths of statistics. He the
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Greg
The best. Profoundly important work. Timeless relevance. Orwell's instilled personal middle class prejudices seemingly unconsciously expressed amid his objective insightful observations on the different class prejudices, as well as politics, work, hygiene, food nutrition, etc. are intriguing but don't diminish the relevance or value of this work.
To read again.
Priya
Mar 15, 2008 Priya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ken Loach wannabes, V-in-the making
I read this as a budding social revolutionary (!) in my days of high school rebellion so have fond memories of the author/book and find it difficult to slag him/it off.

That being said, I like Orwell's journalistic accounts (like this one and Burmese Days), I like his writing style as the crisp prose of a journalist shines through and I like his commitment to showing how, even in a fairly well-off society like Britain, there have always been people who are forgotten about.

It's not all about the
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Chris Dietzel
Ever since reading and loving '1984' and 'Animal Farm' I've been looking for something of Orwell's that can compare. Although 'The Road to Wigan Pier' is nonfiction and tells of coal miners in England, for me it comes the closest to capturing his outrage at the world that I loved so much in his two classics. This book focuses on the hardships of the lower class--the biases they face, the need for liveable wages--and is incredibly relevant to what is going on in much of the world today.
umberto
I'm rereading this wonderful, bitter narration of the poor in Wigan Pier in England eleven years before I was born (first published in 1937) briefly today. It's the sad aftermath for me to review this almost dry, damp copy due to the unexpected deluge that leaked into our Language Center on the ground floor after the heavy, steady rainfalls in the evening last Thursday (September 8). Therefore, on Friday our staff, officials and students helped us move stacks of books, course sheets, academic dr ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
I took the Road to Wigan Pier way too fastly.
I drove by night through the 215 milestones between the beginning and the end of this trip.

I have just parked for a few minutes halfway on the blank space between part I and part II. I turned off the engine and the headlights, had a little nap, restarted and drove straight to the very last page.

I should have not been in a hurry. And yet I couldn't go any slower. Curiosity pushed me to run, to accelerate. And in that speed some details faded away, w
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Anthony D Buckley
One of the best pieces of reportage I have encountered. Orwell discovers the English working class and, with kindness but without sentimentality, he describes what he sees.
Johanne
I think that the thing I found most interesting about this book is how many of the concerns and issues raised still have contemporary relevance. He talks about the middle classes describing the feckless poor who don't want to work - a not unfamiliar sound if you live in Cameron's Britain. He tells how the middle classes accuse the unemployed of wasting their money on junk food and crap (in the 30's that was white bread, sugar and canned meat!) instead of buying ingredients and making nutritious ...more
Yaser maadat
يستعرض اورويل في بداية هذا الكتاب تجربته بين عمال المناجم في ويغان و يصف المعاناة التي يعيشها هؤلاء العمال في ظروف معيشية صعبة واجور غير مناسبة و مخاطر جمة يواجهونها كل يوم عمل،يتحدث اورويل من وجهة نظر برجوازية متضامنة مع هؤلاء العمال لما شاهده بأم عينه من أوضاع صعبة يعيشونها و هو ما ينقله للحديث عن حياته كفتى من الطبقة الوسطى سعى دائما للاقتراب من طبقة العمال و لكنه لم يكن منهم في يوم.
في القسم الثاني من من الكتاب يوجه اورويل سهامه تجاه الاشتراكية ناقدا لها ليس من باب العداء و انما من باب أنها ا
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Perry Whitford
'In order that Hitler may march the goose-step, that the Pope may denounce Bolshevism, that the cricket crowds may assemble at Lords, that the poets may scratch one another’s backs, coal has got to be forthcoming'.

Hard to believe that now isn't it? Yet even harder to believe still, even back then in the 1930s, is the truly appalling conditions under which that coal was produced in those mining towns.

In the true spirit of investigative journalism, in part 1 Orwell decides to live the life of thos
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Nigeyb
I've recently read quite a few books by George Orwell (The Clergyman's Daughter, Coming Up For Air, Keep and The Aspidistra Flying), having previously read Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm and Homage to Catalonia, and am rapidly coming to the conclusion that he's one of my favourite writers. This was only the second time I've sampled his non-fiction.

Before I discuss my thoughts on the book I want to mention how much I enjoy Orwell's writing style. In his essay Politics and the English Language
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Guy Portman
This highly acclaimed and controversial book came into existence as a result of a left-wing publisher by the name of Victor Gollancz commissioning Orwell to make a contribution to what he described as the ‘condition of England’. Gollancz later decided to include the resulting work in his Left Book Club series.

The first half of the book sees Orwell traveling through industrial Northern Britain, detailing and commenting on the working-class life that he comes across, beginning with his experiences
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Jerome Peterson
I have read several works by George Orwell. All of them have created a stir in my thoughts. I hope you have felt that stirring too. "The Road to Wigan Pier" has continued the rustle. Orwell was sent by a socialist book club to investigate the appalling mass unemployment in the industrial north of England. The unpredictable Orwell went further and investigate the employed as well. A striking, haunting account of living conditions that makes you gasp. Orwell spreads his unique dry British humor th ...more
Darwin8u
This is one of those pieces of writing that cause my wife to shudder because I end up stalking her around our home quoting ad nausium paragraph after paragraph. Orwell is fantastically precient, clear, and direct. His writing hits you like a boulder to the head. This book proves it is just as dangerous to be 'theoretically' on the same side as Orwell as it is to be in direct opposition. He is not afraid to loose the scabs off of friend or foe, and will pick with relish at ALL hypocrisy, ALL lazy ...more
Mike Lovato
Personality types never change, socialism is good, fascism is bad, but i still couldn't tell you what either one really means.

You shouldn't complain about your job, unless of course you are a coal miner.

Peaked an interest in better understanding the political climate between world war 1 and 2, especially the appeal of fascism. Today it seems clearly evil, but back then there were a lot of otherwise sensible people buying in. I would like to learn more about the context that lead to this.
IvIásoo
بی شک ، خمودگی و ناتوانی از بزرگترین اثرهای وحشتناک بیکاری است که بر همه ی عضوهای خانواده و به ویژه مرد مؤثر می باشد.شمار بزرگی از مردان و زنان بیکار،استعدادهای نهانی بسیاری دارند،چنانکه خود گروهی از کارگران بیکار را می شناسم که دارای ذوق و استعداد قابل توجهی هستند و نوشتارهای آنها اغلب از مقاله هایی که آن منتقدان ادبی شکم گنده می نویسند،بسیار گیراتر و جذاب تر است.پس چرا چیزی نمی نویسند و وقت خود را به بیهودگی می گذرانند؟پاسخ این است که برای نوشتن به سکوت و آرامش فکری نیاز است و این چیزی است که ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Although written in the 1930's, this book is still very politically relevant, which is surprising when you consider the evaluation in current politics. The only difference seems to be that the bourgeoisie seems to be the new middle class and the working class are the chavs of today. Although the living conditions seem have definitely progressed for all the classes but the fundamental issues listed by Orwell remain un-addressed. Orwell's astute observation of the normal being reactionary as oppos ...more
Kc
Brilliant. His second half rant is still incredibly topical and something we who would like to see justice and fairness prevail should take heed of!
Sara
كتاب رائع من المرحلة اليسارية لجورج اورويل مع تفائل كبير و ايمان لا حدود له بالاشتراكية .كان ليكون رائعا جدا لو قراته من 80 سنة .جورج اورويل R.I.P.
Allan
Having read both 'Down and Out in Paris and London' and 'Homage to Catalonia', I was keen to read this book. It is almost two separate pieces; a document of what Orwell finds while travelling thorough the industrial north in the 1930s, and an analysis of the class system and analysis of the political system of the time.

It was the first section of the book that really appealed to me. Orwell had a real gift in painting a picture with his words of the scenes and situations in which he found himself
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Mitchell
After returning from Burma in 1927, George Orwell found that his beliefs and prejudices had been completely upturned after witnessing the evil brutality of the British imperial system. He decided he wanted “to escape not merely from imperialism but from every form of man’s dominion over man. I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed, to be one of them and on their side against the tyrants.”

He ended up spending much time amongst the working class, and the result of that w
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Rob Maher
George Orwell was one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. Partly it’s the man, partly the era that he lived through. Of Orwell’s novels, most are fair, one or two extraordinary, Animal Farm’s re-enactment of the major stages of any revolutionary uprising being his best. For high grade Orwell though, you have to turn to his non-fiction.

The Road to Wigan Pier, like Down and Out in Paris and London, is a book of two halves. The first half depicts Orwell’s experiences travelling aro
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Anbu
Socialism is something that is being touted as the way to achieve a utopian society for more than a century by a lot more intellects. When you read about the socialism and its principles, it is very easy to accept all unless if you are blinded by the ‘faith of God’ or you are one of the capitalist. Then why did the world embraced the socialism even after more than hundred years? George Orwell tried to address it in this book. He starts with the status of working class and the difficulties in for ...more
Ian
Part One is a really well written account of Orwell's time spent with the working-classes in Northern England, specifically concentrating on miners in Wigan, but also looking at Sheffield. It is a pretty bleak description at times, and it is clear how much respect Orwell had for miners in particular, and the working class in general. It is worth remembering this book was researched and written in the mid-to-late '30s, when class was much more of an issue than I would say it is nowadays.



Certainl
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Bright Young Things: September 2012 - The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell 10 33 Sep 14, 2012 04:34PM  
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3706
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
...more
More about George Orwell...
1984 Animal Farm Animal Farm / 1984 Down and Out in Paris and London Homage to Catalonia

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“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion....Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners.” 51 likes
“The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her—her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever-seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that ‘It isn’t the same for them as it would be for us,’ and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was happening to her—understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.” 13 likes
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