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The Road to Wigan Pier

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A searing account of George Orwell’s experiences of working-class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire, The Road to Wigan Pier is a brilliant and bitter polemic that has lost none of its political impact over time. His graphically unforgettable descriptions of social injustice, slum housing, mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment are written with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity.

215 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 1937

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About the author

George Orwell

1,381 books41.5k followers
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 police officer with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma from 1922-1927 and fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1937. Orwell was severely wounded when he was shot through his throat. Later the organization that he had joined when he joined the Republican cause, The Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), was painted by the pro-Soviet Communists as a Trotskyist organization (Trotsky was Joseph Stalin's enemy) and disbanded. Orwell and his wife were accused of "rabid Trotskyism" and tried in absentia in Barcelona, along with other leaders of the POUM, in 1938. However by then they had escaped from Spain and returned to England.

Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary editor of the Tribune, a weekly left-wing magazine. He was a prolific polemical journalist, article writer, literary critic, reviewer, poet, and writer of fiction, and, considered perhaps the twentieth century's best chronicler of English culture.

Orwell is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949) and the satirical novella Animal Farm (1945) — they have together sold more copies than any two books by any other twentieth-century author. His 1938 book Homage to Catalonia, an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, together with numerous essays on politics, literature, language, and culture, have been widely acclaimed.

Orwell's influence on contemporary culture, popular and political, continues decades after his death. Several of his neologisms, along with the term "Orwellian" — now a byword for any oppressive or manipulative social phenomenon opposed to a free society — have entered the vernacular.

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Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,023 followers
March 18, 2014

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 crucial questions:

1. Why class differences persist even when the means exist to destroy them
2. Why socialism is failing practically and intellectually even as the moral facet (of its rectitude) is irrefutable (to his mind, at least)

The reader has to be warned that The Road to Wigan Pier can seem a bit rambling (or circuitous!) at times but is in fact a tight composition and has been echoed by many writers since Orwell.

The structure of the piece is quite elegant:

In the first section, Orwell provides a direct detailing of the life in the ‘industrial towns’, of the proletariat, of the toiling classes. It is evocative and reminded me strongly of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity in depth of detail and emotional involvement. It is a quick tour but captures the essential cruelties and degradation of life - rotten housing, lack of toilets, unemployment - and the complete hopelessness of it all. But just as Boo does later, Orwell also manages to convey that it is not due to the people, it is purely due to the conditions imposed on them. Orwell is very careful to drill this point home. It is the situations that make the classes.

This is exactly what I expected from the title of the book though I had also been resigned to some amount of political commentary, Orwell being Orwell. But soon the real purpose of the book starts to take shape and for a while I felt disappointed. But Orwell soon reveals the purpose behind his autobiographical excursions in the second part of the book and now I have come to regard this second section as the most vital. It is a narrative technique which I am now starting to notice in a number of other authors trying to grapple with class differences, including Suketu Mehta in Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, trying to come to terms with a riven Bombay.

So, in this second, and to me most important, section, Orwell exposes his own biases and prejudices through a frank autobiographical study. He opens up his own upbringing to show how prejudices creep in and establish themselves in our psyche and never let go no matter how hard we hammer at them. Situating himself as a symbol of the middle class, Orwell uses this sketch to convey how we are all prey to such class prejudices and that we need to work within our own limitations and especially of the one’s we are trying to convert to the specialist cause (by we, I mean the Left Book Club - the intended audience of the book). He uses the pungent example of ‘lower classes smell’ as an irrevocable class barrier. This has come under much criticism but it is important to keep in mind that it is only an example, he could have gone with the ‘non-pronouncement of the ‘H’s’ or any other minor but hard to avoid detail. To criticize the choice of detail is besides the point.

Then comes the last section: the fulmination and the grand rhetoric. This section is the hardest to agree with and feels the most dated to the modern reader. Orwell tries to examine his second major point - Why is Socialism Declining? His answer is that it is because it is associated with mindless mechanized progress - due to the wrong instruments of propaganda which are turning away all the right sort of people and bringing only the ‘quacks’ into the socialist circles. Instead, to win the all-out and most important war against Fascism (which is, Orwell asserts, at the Gates), the Socialists need to forget class propaganda, accept that class prejudices will take longer to disappear (as elucidated in the previous section) and focus on the principles of ‘liberty’ and ‘justice’, which Orwell is sure will bring all the moral and intelligent people into Socialism. Only by asserting this moral core of Socialism, stripped of class propaganda, can the scales be tipped in favor of Socialism and away from Fascism. Now the humanistic picture of the depravations of the first section are resurrected in another light and Orwell presents both the class-proletariats as well as the ‘economic-proletariats’ (i.e, people like himself, born to a higher class but earning only the equal of an industrial worker), as more likely to tend towards fascism, if for no other reason but self-preservation. Socialism needs to bring these classes into its fold. That is the crying need of the day.

"And then perhaps this misery of class-prejudice will fade away, and we of the sinking middle class … may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose but our aitches ('H's)."

The Literary Lens / The 1984 Reappraisal

The conclusions advocated by Orwell must seem too simplistic to modern ex-post readers, but there is another angle to be explored here that is not political in nature. This arises from the fact that this exposition was published before either 1984 or Animal Farm and after Brave New World. Orwell is quite clear that the Utopia (or Dystopia, or better, Utopia Caricatured) envisioned as the end goal of socialist progress in Brave New World is the very core of intelligent man’s revulsion towards Socialism - arising organically due to associations with ‘softness’ and degradation. Orwell needed to show the other extreme to turn this revulsion on its head.

We often compare Brave New World and 1984 as if they were alternate predictions and give marks to Huxley for having predicted better. But this misses Orwell’s point.

Orwell wanted to show the other extreme - the purely Fascist Dystopia - to bring around the people who were revolted by Brave New World and similar Utopian visions that were doing the rounds then (such as The Dream and Men Like Gods). Orwell calls these visions of the future that is based on mechanical progress as “the paradise of little fat men” which he admits was “aptly caricatured by Huxley in Brave New World”.


You can also think of the caricature in the Wall-E movie for a better visualized reference. Orwell gives a grand argument, based on how the purpose of machines is to make human life easier and thus softer, to show how the Wall-E future is pretty much inevitable according to this conception of progress. He needed to present the antithesis to this vision - 1984. No matter how bad the caricature of the socialist progress, the Fascist one is surely the one to avoid. 1984 was the rubbing in of this idea, already set forth in 1937 with The Road to Wigan Pier, more than a decade before the fictional attack became unavoidable for Orwell.

Thesis. Antithesis. Synthesis. 'Boom', said the Three Sisters.


And, if we can claim that Orwell’s prophesy is today less imminent than Huxley’s, then Orwell wins The Battle of ‘Who Can Scare Them Most’.

Well done, Orwell, you turned the course.
Huxley, you needed to scare us more - we are headed there fast, still.
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
559 reviews7,434 followers
October 27, 2014
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 of reading it gets you an F. Why didn't you write this like Down and Out? It's a pity Georgie. A pity.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,691 followers
November 12, 2015
“I am a degenerate modern semi-intellectual who would die if I did not get my early morning cup of tea and my New Statesman every Friday. Clearly I do not, in a sense, 'want' to return to a simpler, harder, probably agricultural way of life. In the same sense I don't 'want' to cut down on my drinking, to pay my debts, to take enough exercise, to be faithful to my wife, etc. etc. But in another and more permanent sense I do want these things, and perhaps in the same sense I want a civilization in which 'progress' is not definable as making the world safe for little fat men.”
― George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier


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 thinking, and ALL moral pretense. Probably the greatest tribute that can be dropped at the feet of Orwell are the acolytes he produced. One doesn't need to go too much further than Chris Hitchens or Andrew Sullivan to find writers whose style, attitude, and flourish were directly influenced by Orwell's anti-ecumenical, anti-fascist voice.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,196 reviews9,479 followers
March 21, 2023
The first half of this odd book is universally beloved, and I can see why – I loved it too! Investigative journalism at its finest, 1937 style. The second half was greeted with cries of horror and consternation, and I can very easily see why! The publisher, who paid George a handsome sum up front for this, was so outraged he wanted to publish the two parts separately and have part two prefaced by a long apology from himself!


So, part one is where George Orwell does a poverty tour of the industrialised part of England referred to by everyone in hushed tones as “the North”. He stays with miners, goes down mines, lodges in a tripe shop, describes houses and lives – incomes are itemised and analysed, such as the weekly wage stoppages for a miner (insurance, hire of lamp, for sharpening tools, check-weighman, infirmary, benevolent fund, union fees – total 4 shillings 5 pence) – all of this is beautifully presented with a simmering outrage and a refusal to sentimentalise. And he throws out his eyebrow-raising observations like confetti.

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. The Great War, for instance, could never have happened if tinned food had not been invented.


So Part One is brilliant, five star reading all the way. In Part Two he changes gear and gives us a long, often bizarre essay, kind of like a “What Must Be Done?” cri de coeur, starting off with some autobiography to show how a posh Eton-educated boy like himself ended up as a committed Socialist – this is fair enough – but then he starts flailing and thrashing around trying to answer several questions all at once, the main ones being

Why Do the Middle Class and the Working Class Hate Each Other?

Why Isn’t Every Working-Class Person a Socialist?


What is Socialism Anyway?

George was writing for a leftwing audience and here he tells them just what he thinks of them. They’re all hopeless! They talk over the heads of the very working class people they should be attracting, using their horrible Marxist jargon, spouting utopianism and worshipping Russia. And the people who are attracted to Socialism! What a shower!

There is the horrible – the really disquieting – prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw toward them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist and feminist in England.

Yes, we see George counted feminists as unwelcome cranks.

I have here a prospectus from another summer school which states its terms per week and then asks me to say “whether my diet is ordinary or vegetarian”. They take it for granted, you see, that it is necessary to ask this question.

Wouldn’t we love to grab up George Orwell in our time machine and have him wander round our 21st century world and then write a 100 page essay about it!


Readers of his often-wonderful sometimes-tiresome essays will be familiar with the Orwell Effect. His plain-dealing honest-speaking unaffected tone of voice creates this idea in your mind that George was the most common sensical man who ever lived and that nobody therefore could possibly disagree with him. He always sounds like he knows what he is talking about. And he throws out the most extraordinary generalisations as if they are so obvious as to almost not be worth mentioning :

The habit of washing yourself all over is a very recent one in Europe

The soldier’s attitude to life which is fundamentally, in spite of discipline, a lawless attitude

Mongolians have much nicer bodies than most white men

People usually govern foreigners better than they govern themselves

No modern man, in his heart of hearts, believes that it is right to invade a foreign country

Every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed

Such offhand remarks twang around the reader’s head so regularly that after a while you forget to dodge.

No doubt, Orwell seems to think pretty much everybody has got pretty much everything wrong apart from him. He’s a bad tempered eccentric curmudgeon with a great love of the poor and the neglected. The love and outrage that fires this book makes it worth reading, not his loopy trashing of all his fellow leftwingers, during which he seems to be presenting his political enemies with all the ammunition they could ever require.

An extraordinary book.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
November 9, 2021
The Road to Wigan Pier is a very interesting book. For several reasons.

Personal to me is the reason that the first part of the book documents the poverty and squalor of working class life in Northern industrial towns in Britain. It feels personal because this is where I am from, and the people he describes could easily be my grandparents, who grew up dirt poor in Yorkshire in the 1930s and 1940s. My maternal grandfather was a coal miner just like the ones that Orwell describes in detail here. Horrendous conditions down the mines left him with a lifetime of health problems.

This book was eye-opening when it was first published, as many outside of the Northern industrial sectors had absolutely no idea how the other half lived.

The second part of the book is an analysis of socialism as a cultural and economic model and a suggestion for how we could convince sceptics to employ it. Anyone who read Animal Farm and 1984 and imagined them as an indictment of socialism would better understand Orwell's views by reading this book. He is not against socialism at all. He is against Stalinism and totalitarianism, which any sane person should be, but he sees socialism as the way forward.

I found it especially interesting how he talks about the view non-socialists have of socialists, because it still seems relevant today. He explains how the working class-- those with the most to gain from socialism --are not "intellectual" socialists and are not what non-socialists imagine when they think of socialists. Non-socialists are often hostile towards socialists because they picture an eccentric, middle-class, "vegetarian" member of the intelligentsia, and they despise this.

This is certainly true today. Conservative pundits continue to sneer at the coddled, university-educated "socialist" with their fancy schmancy "woke" talk (or whatever it is the conservatives are waffling about these days), when socialism is actually most beneficial to the working class, not this imagined stereotype.

Anyway, another good Orwell book. If anything, part two goes on a little too long. Interested as I was, there's only so much theory analysis I can take.
Profile Image for Nigeyb.
1,212 reviews266 followers
March 7, 2017
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 (1946), Orwell wrote about the importance of precise and clear language, and provides six rules for writers:

• Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
• Never use a long word where a short one will do.
• If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
• Never use the passive where you can use the active.
• Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
• Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules seem to me to inform his style that I perceive to be simple and powerful.

Onto the book itself, in the first half of The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell catalogues the poverty he encounters in the north of England during the depression of the 1930s. In the second half, and written whilst Fascism is on the rise in Europe, he outlines his Socialist solution.

Orwell appears to be unfailingly honest - both about what he encounters amongst the poor families of the north of England (his description of the Brookers' boarding house is powerful and evocative) and his own prejudices.

A word on his prejudices, he refers to homosexuals as "pansies" and discusses the "cranks" that gravitate towards Socialism which include - in his words - fruit-juice drinkers, nudists, sandal wearers, sex maniacs, Quakers, nature-cure quacks, feminists and vegetarians. He is honest enough, elsewhere in the book, to acknowledge the difficulty anyone encounters trying to escape their social background - these prejudices suggest to me he was, in some respects, a very traditional person. I think this self awareness makes him more endearing and probably more clear-sighted whilst also jarring with me, as I fall into at least two of his crank categories.

A lot of his thoughts and observations still resonated with me as a reader in 2012. Specifically his ideas on class prejudice and language. That said, I think he was also fairly naive when he wrote this book. His political education would continue in Spain, as documented in Homage to Catalonia, when he would fight a real war against Fascism, and where he encountered Russian propaganda and the rivalries between the various Republican factions. I would recommend reading the two books back-to-back.

I preferred the first half of the book, with its clear eyed depictions of poverty, which is more interesting than his political musings in the second half. The second half is interesting, but his tendency to repeat himself, his personal prejudices and his political naivety, undermine this half of the book. That said, it's well worth reading for anyone interested in the era, or in Orwell's writing - I find both fascinating.
Profile Image for B0nnie.
136 reviews49 followers
February 16, 2012
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 astonishingly dirty. I don't think I ever once saw his hands clean. If he gave you a slice of bread-and-butter there was always a black thumb-print on it.

At any hour of the day you were liable to meet Mr Brooker on the stairs, carrying a full chamber-pot which he gripped with his thumb well over the rim.

The most dreadful thing about people like the Brookers is the way they say the same things over and over again. It gives you the feeling that they are not real people at all, but a kind of ghost.

They kept a tripe shop -- flocculent stuff. They were the kind of people who run a business chiefly in order to have something to grumble about. The place was filthy: hanging from the ceiling there was a heavy glass chandelier on which the dust was so thick that it was like fur.

Generally the crumbs from breakfast were still on the table at supper.

I used to get to know individual crumbs by sight and watch their progress up and down the table from day to day. I never saw anyone brave the marmalade jar, which was an unspeakable mass of stickiness and dust. Last year's dead bluebottles were supine in the shop window (not good for trade!).

B: Curious. How long do bugs stay in a house?

O: Till. the. crack. of. doom.

B: And, above all, what do you feel there is no need of?

O: To have unemptied chamber-pots standing about in your living-room!

B: Briefly then, can you tell us what it's like in a coal mine?

O: The place is like hell.

B: Could you please define 'hell'?

O: Heat, noise, confusion, darkness, foul air, and, (also above all) unbearably cramped space.

B: I've always wondered what coal is used for, besides finding it in my stocking on Christmas mornings.

O: Let me list them for you:

-For eating an ice
-In crossing the Atlantic
-When baking a loaf
-In writing a novel
-In all the arts of peace (if war breaks out it is needed all the more)
-In times of revolution (and in times of reaction)
-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

B: And pray tell, who might owe the decency of their lives to those poor drudges who work underground?

O: I'll tell you who:

-you and I
-the editor of the Times Lit. Supp.
-the poets
-the Archbishop of Canterbury
-comrade X, author of Marxism for Infants

B: All of us?

O: Yes.

B: If coal could not be produced without pregnant women dragging it to and fro, should we let them?

O: I fancy we should let them do it rather than deprive ourselves of coal.

B: When did you realise what splendid men miners are?

O: It is only when you see miners down the mine and naked that you realise what splendid men they are. Most of them are small (big men are at a disadvantage in that job) but nearly all of them have the most noble bodies; wide shoulders tapering to slender supple waists, and small pronounced buttocks and sinewy thighs, with not an ounce of waste flesh anywhere. In the hotter mines they wear only a pair of thin drawers, clogs and knee-pads . . .

B: 'The splendour of their bodies' comes to mind.

O: Yes, very much.

B: But, where are the monstrous men with chests like barrels and moustaches like the wings of eagles who strode across your child-hood's gaze twenty or thirty years ago?

O: Buried, I suppose, in the Flanders mud. If the English physique has declined, this is no doubt partly due to the fact that the Great War carefully selected the million best men in England and slaughtered them, largely before they had had time to breed.

B: That reminds me, did you ever habitually allow yourself to be dressed and undressed by a Burmese boy?

O: Oh yes.

B: And you...what were you like as a teen?

O: When I was fourteen or fifteen I was an odious little snob.

B: Lawrence says that because you have been to a public school you are a eunuch.

O: Well, what about it?

B: Umm, moving on, where was the silliest and worst delivered lecture you have ever heard or ever expect to hear?

O: Actually it was in Sheffield - I was taken to a public hall to listen to a lecture by a clergyman.

B: Did your feet carry you out, seemingly of their own accord, before it was half-way through??

O: Yes indeed, how did you know?

B: Well, I've read your book. By the way, who is the master in a middle-class home?

O: The woman, or the baby.

B: Mr. Orwell, let's get to the big question. What is a human being?

O: Odd question, but, primarily a bag for putting food into - the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards.

B: True. And who are the laziest people in Europe?

O: The English!

B: What sums up the normal English attitude towards the Latin races?

O: Ha-ha - olives, vines, and vices.

B: Besides always telling the truth, you are known for predicting the future. So, what will life be like in the 'Utopian future', in two hundred years from now?

O: There won't be a coal fire in the grate, only some kind of invisible heater. The furniture will be made of rubber, glass, and steel.

If there are still such things as evening papers there will certainly be no racing news in them, for gambling will be meaningless in a world where there is no poverty and the horse will have vanished from the face of the earth.

Dogs, too, will have been suppressed on grounds of hygiene. And there won't be so many children, either, if the birth-controllers have their way.

B: What is your view on hanging?

O: I watched a man hanged once; it seemed to me worse than a thousand murders. I never went into a jail without feeling (most visitors to jails feel the same) that my place was on the other side of the bars.

I thought then -- I think now, for that matter -- that the worst criminal who ever walked is morally superior to a hanging judge.

B: Is it true that the middle-class person who is an ardent Socialist at twenty-five is a sniffish Conservative at thirty-five?

O: One can observe on every side that dreary phenomenon.

B: What sort of person is drawn to Socialism?

O: One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words 'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit- juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

B: Can bad breathe be a problem?

O: You can have an affection for a murderer or a sodomite, but you cannot have an affection for a man whose breath stinks.

B: What does the high standard of life we enjoy depend upon?

O: Under the capitalist system, in order that [we]may live in comparative comfort, a hundred million Indians must live on the verge of starvation -- an evil state of affairs, but you acquiesce in it every time you step into a taxi or eat a plate of strawberries and cream.

B: Do you have anything to say about the rage against the machine?

O: The sensitive person's hostility to the machine is in one sense unrealistic, because of the obvious fact that the machine has come to stay. But as an attitude of mind there is a great deal to be said for it. The machine has got to be accepted, but it is probably better to accept it rather as one accepts a drug -- that is, grudgingly and suspiciously.

Like a drug, the machine is useful, dangerous, and habit-forming. The oftener one surrenders to it the tighter its grip becomes. You have only to look about you at this moment to realise with what sinister speed the machine is getting us into its power.

B: Yet aren't machine-made things cheaper?

O: Look at the filthy chemical by-product that people will pour down their throats under the name of beer. Wherever you look you will see some slick machine-made article triumphing over the old-fashioned article that still tastes of something other than sawdust.

And what applies to food applies also to furniture, houses, clothes, books, amusements, and everything else that makes up our environment.

B: Yes, sometimes I hate this age.

O: You may hate the machine-civilisation, probably you are right to hate it, but for the present there can be no question of accepting or rejecting it.

B: Are you too affected by the machine?

O: Give a Western man a job of work and he immediately begins devising a machine that would do it for him; give him a machine and he thinks of ways of improving it. I understand this tendency well enough, for in an ineffectual sort of way I have that type of mind myself.

I have not either the patience or the mechanical skill to devise any machine that would work, but I am perpetually seeing, as it were, the ghosts of possible machines that might save me the trouble of using my brain or muscles.

B: Ah the ghost in the machine. Wasn't it YOU, in fact, who invented the internet?

O: This is a misconception. I do believe the rumour started because -- as you well know -- a search on google for "Orwell" + "modem" yields hundreds of results. Perhaps this will finally end (today?) and maybe the other rumours will end as well -- like the one about me and a certain "Lyons comer house". I could multiply examples by the score on this sort of thing.

B: "Orwell" + "cat coke" is one of my favourites. Well, thank you sir,
and R.I.P.

O: At any rate, it's back to Sutton Courtenay.

Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 22 books2,023 followers
January 28, 2023
While he did not tempt me to become a socialist, there was much to agree with here. He did a beautiful job of describing the problems of modernity. As with most books of this kind, it is the solutions that are problematic.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,380 reviews2,256 followers
March 16, 2021

If there is one thing that I love about Orwell's non-fiction/journalism - especially when dealing with Britain of the 1930s - it is that he doesn't set out to be a sensationalist by picking out certain disastrous events, but rather uses his own personal observations and experiences to broaden the horizon here and write a far more comprehensive picture of life during The Great Depression in the north of England regarding coal mines, unemployment, housing conditions, capitalism etc..., and, even though reading this now will likely shock and surprise more than it did then , he does so without the need for dramatics. If the first half of the book was easy to digest where Orwell sticks mostly to being descriptive and clear, then the rest of it is far more politcal and personal, controversial and challenging, in regards to his subject matter. Whether or not we agree with Orwell's vision of socialism, it's difficult not to at least admire his honesty and passion here. Yet another of his immersive and fascinating non-fiction books that was very much an eye-opener.
Profile Image for nettebuecherkiste.
514 reviews125 followers
July 24, 2021
George Orwell dürfte zu den Autoren des 20. Jahrhunderts gehören, den die meisten kennen, und zwar für seine beiden bekanntesten Werke „1984“ und „Animal Farm“. Doch Orwell verfasste nicht nur Fiktion, sondern war auch als Journalist tätig und verfasste Essays und Sachbücher, die von seiner politischen Ausrichtung als Sozialist geprägt sind. Das aus dem Jahr 1937 stammende „The Road to Wigan Pier“ ist eines dieser Sachbücher.

Das Buch ist in zwei Teile gegliedert, im ersten Teil beschreibt Orwell das Leben der armen Arbeiter, der zweite Teil ist theoretischer angelegt und befasst sich mit dem demokratischen Sozialismus als nach Orwells Ansicht einzige zukunftsträchtige Staatsform.

Der erste Teil ist sowohl inhaltlich als auch stilistisch überzeugend und fesselnd. Hier kommen Orwells schriftstellerisches Talent und sein beißender Humor voll zur Geltung und die Sprache liest sich wunderbar. Orwell begab sich selbst in ein Arbeiterwohnheim und beschreibt die entsetzlichen Lebensbedingungen der Unterschicht, sowohl von Alleinstehenden als auch von Familien. Er spricht Ungerechtigkeiten an, wie die Tatsache, dass die Bergleute ihre Lampen selbst bezahlen mussten. Ich wurde des Öfteren daran erinnert, wie es Hartz IV-Empfängern heute geht, so gab es damals in Großbritannien einen sogenannten „Means Test“:

„The Means Test ist very strictly enforced, and you are liable to be refused relief at the slightest hint that you are getting money from another source“. (S. 74)

Die behördlichen Auflagen für die finanzielle Unterstützung kann man durchaus als pure Schikane bezeichnen. Kommt uns das irgendwie bekannt vor? Ist es nicht ein Armutszeugnis, dass unsere heutige Gesellschaft da offenbar nicht allzu viele Fortschritte gemacht hat?

Orwell nennt nahezu absurde Beispiele, so wurde einem Mann, der in der Abwesenheit seines Nachbarn dessen Hühner fütterte, unterstellt, dann habe er ja eine Arbeit.

Orwell begab sich außerdem in ein Bergwerk, dessen Arbeitsbedingungen nahezu unerträglich anmuten, und weist darauf hin, welch Aufwand hinter einem so selbstverständlich genutzten Produkt wie der Kohle steckt.

Der ganze erste Teil ist hervorragender, ansprechend geschriebener Journalismus, dessen Lektüre mir nur durch einen Satz etwas vermiest wurde, in dem Orwell daran erinnert, dass es sich hierbei schließlich um anständige Engländer handelte und nicht um „gypsies“ (also „Zigeuner“). Auch Orwell war also nicht frei von Rassismus, was er an späterer Stelle aber auch einräumt und diskutiert.

Im zweiten Teil konnte ich Orwell aber über große Strecken hinweg nicht folgen. Es ist einige Wochen her, dass ich das Buch gelesen habe, daher gelingt es mir eventuell nicht mehr, die Argumentation ganz nachzuvollziehen, ich werde es versuchen.

Nicht nur äußert Orwell unhaltbare Vorurteile gegen Vegetarier, Pazifisten, Feministen usw., die sich häufig zum Sozialismus hingezogen fühlen:

„… that the mere words ‚Socialism‘ and ‚Communism‘ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‚Nature Cure‘ quack, pacifist and feminist in England.“ (Seite 168)

Er zeigt auch eine feindliche Einstellung gegenüber Maschinen, die ich nicht teilen kann und die auch schlicht durch den technologischen Fortschritt widerlegbar ist, etwa, dass Autos oder Flugzeuge so perfektioniert würden, dass jeder sie bedienen könne (da sind wir zumindest NOCH nicht), dass sie den Menschen jeglicher Beschäftigung berauben würden, ihn verweichlichen ließen, da es keinerlei Anlass mehr gäbe, sich körperlich zu betätigen (*räusper* Sport). Nach Orwells Einschätzung braucht der Mensch Arbeit und ist es unwesentlich, ob es sich dabei um Feldarbeit oder Klavier spielen handelt, der Klavierspieler empfände das Klavierspielen als Arbeit, der Feldarbeiter die Feldarbeit. Aber da genau liegt der Knackpunkt, im idealen, utopischen Falle geben Maschinen den Menschen die Freiheit, der Betätigung nachzugehen, die seiner Neigung entspricht (Star Trek lässt grüßen). Orwell argumentiert, niemand würde freiwillig mehr Mühe in eine Arbeit stecken als nötig, aber das ist Unsinn, wäre dem so, gäbe es weder Kunsthandwerk noch Gartenarbeit, Werken oder Kochen als Hobby. (Solche Fertigkeiten sollten auch auf keinen Fall verloren gehen, sonst enden wir in einer Dystopie in Forsters „The Machine Stops“.)

Des Weiteren ist es keineswegs so, dass menschliche Fertigkeiten aufgrund von Maschinen nicht mehr nötig sind, sie verändern sich lediglich, verlangen hochspezialisierte Kenntnisse zur Bedienung und Herstellung der entsprechenden Geräte.

So kann ich im Gegensatz zum ersten Teil, dem ich sehr gerne volle 5 Sterne gebe, für den 2. Teil nur 3 Sterne vergeben. Er ist wesentlich mühevoller zu lesen und enthält einiges, was fragwürdig ist, andererseits hat mich selten ein Text so zum Nachdenken, Markieren und Anfertigen von Notizen bewegt.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,549 reviews1,825 followers
May 9, 2018
This is a book of two halves. The second half from chapter eight onwards is autobiographical and explains how his life and experience led him to the experiences of the first half, as he says the road from Mandalay to Wigan is a long one and the reasons for taking it are not immediately clear (p.106), the suggestion is that this book is a prosaic response to Kipling's poem The Road to Mandalay., from empire to domestic politics, from Imperialism to Socialism. His approach to the latter and the purpose of his journey oddly brutal, the accountancy of human suffering. Before committing yourself to socialism, he says, you have to see suffering for yourself and decide if it is tolerable, which rather suggests that potentially a disinterested observer might add up the sum of human misery and conclude that it's not that bad and no reason to change direction politically.

The key here I feel who Orwell is writing for. He was commissioned to write this book for the 'Left Book Club' of Seecker and Warburg which had been set up in 1936 with the intention of energising British left wing politics. Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier came out the following year in 1937. I was shocked by it for two reasons, the first the absolute basic points he is trying to make such as what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal (p17), Orwell feels it is necessary to tell his readers that working class women are human, he feels for his readership this is an arresting thought - the poor, the unemployed, the generally down trodden, can be regarded as sub-human. We might feel the micro-graduation of British class play a role here, Orwell describes himself as coming from the lower-upper-middle class, people who he explains have just enough money to enable them to feel snobby and superior. People of lower social class are physically repellent. They smell. And indeed now and then you can notice generally in Orwell's writing a peculiar horror of the unclean, the dirty, and of physical contact with other people who might not have been dipped in carbolic.

The other unexpected shock here in the description of the effects of mass unemployment in the North -West of England in the 1930s is how this book might have been used to design much current social misery. What do we need to have to achieve human suffering- housing crisis, insecure employment, inadequate social insurance, oh, but don't forget tasty cheap foods that are grossly unhealthy and plenty of gambling. Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose.
Profile Image for Kevin.
496 reviews83 followers
December 24, 2022
England, 1937 - This documentary report on the perpetual struggle of the working class is both a scathing indictment of England’s social stratification and a tribute to the courage and perseverance of the proletariat.

A Political Inference - Making no qualms about his leftist leanings, Orwell weighs the pros and cons of socialism as an antidote for abject poverty—defining and dissecting the economic theory before presenting his ideas on how to rectify its deficiencies and save the world from fascism.

Overview - The Road to Wigan Pier burns with an indignation for collective apathy. Orwell, ever the stalwart opponent of human suffering, advocates for decency and personhood. Even those skeptical of his politics may discover a grudging appreciation of his humanity.

“Our heroes and heroines are those who managed, from Orwell through Camus and Solzhenitsyn, to be both intellectual and engaged.” ~Christopher Hitchens
Profile Image for Owlseyes .
1,650 reviews267 followers
January 21, 2019

"You and I and the editor of the Times Lit. Supp., and the poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comrade X, author of Marxism for Infants–all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel."

"Every miner has blue scars on his nose and forehead, and will carry them to his death".

"All the people I saw in these places, especially the children, were unspeakably dirty, and I do not doubt that they were lousy as well."

"I first became aware of the unemployment problem in 1928. At that time I had just come back from Burma, where unemployment was only a word, and I had gone to Burma when I was still a boy and the post-war boom was not quite over."

"I do not believe that there is anything inherently and unavoidably ugly about industrialism."

"This nonsense about the superior energy of the English (actually the laziest people in Europe) has been current for at least a hundred years."

"Indeed the Lancashire and Yorkshire miners treated me with a kindness and courtesy that were even embarrassing; for if there is one type of man to whom I do feel myself inferior, it is a coal-miner."

"Meanwhile, do the ’lower classes’ smell? Of course, as a whole, they are dirtier than the upper classes."

"A middle-class person embraces Socialism and perhaps even joins the Communist Party....I have known numbers of bourgeois Socialists, I have listened by the hour to their tirades against their own class, and yet never, not even once, have I met one who had picked up proletarian table-manners."

"The Chinese, I believe, say that a white man smells like a corpse. The Burmese say the same (though no Burman was ever rude enough to say so to me.)"

"At this moment Socialists almost everywhere are in retreat before the onslaught of Fascism, and events are moving at terrible speed."

THIS IS COMPLETELY SEARING. Before you adhere to what's fashionable in politics, whatever the school or political/economic theory, this book should be your first read. The first part of the book is an accurate observation/description of the conditions of work of coal miners. The second part is a matured reflection on socialism and other political views, interspersed by Orwell's own experiences in the East (mainly in India and Burma).

He knew what he was talking about.


Profile Image for Tristessa.
12 reviews
January 15, 2009
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 for the working classes; he was educated to believe that they 'smell'. His description of the Brookers' boarding house is a wonderfully Dickensian gothic and grotesque description of squalor and disappointed lives illustrating that dirt and disgust is what stands in the way of socialism's triumph. I was tickled by Orwell's greater repulsion for the bearded fruit-juice drinking middle class socialist crank who wants to 'level the working class 'up' (up to his own standard) by means of hygiene...birth-control, poetry' In essence, Wigan Pier is a confession of Orwell's own failings; he knows he cannot resolve the class problem by being friends with the working classes; he is an outsider. Orwell is also seeringly honest about his own feelings of masculine inferiority regarding his repulsion/attraction for the 'superhuman' miners. I admire Wigan Pier because I recognise my own hypocrisies in the way Orwell tries to abolish that part of himself he came to abhor as being an instrument of the British Empire in India. We are all guilty of class prejudice.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,857 reviews1,370 followers
November 25, 2012
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 then concludes his book by meandering back and forth between the theoretical and the autobiographical. It is easy to see how this spurned readers, both then and now.

My reasons for reading this now were related on Hadrian's Wall (sorry I couldn't resist.) but Orwell's book did serve as a pleasurable counterpoint to my own holiday experiences.
Profile Image for Deniz Balcı.
Author 2 books579 followers
October 1, 2016
George Orwell pek hakim olduğum bir yazar değil, daha önce birkaç kitabını okuma fırsatı bulmuştum. Bu kitabı da bir görevden kaynaklı okudum. Genel olarak inceleme kitaplarına eğer ki sanatla ilintili değilse pek yanaşmam; zira oldukça zorlanırım. 'Wigan İskelesi Yolu'nda da aynı şey oldu, cidden çok zorlandım.

Kitabın başlamasıyla birlikte ne denli büyük bir yazarın elinden çıktığını hemen kavrıyorsunuz. Orwell'in bir şeyler anlatma konusundaki yeteneği, bu eserine de yansımış. İlk 100 sayfayı büyük bir ilgiyle okudum. Emile Zola'nın 'Germinal'inden sonra aşinalık kazandığım madenciliğe karşı daha bilimsel bilgiler edinme şansına eriştim. Kitabın tamamını okuduktan sonra da en etkileyici kısımın hala bu bölüm olduğunu düşünüyorum. Madencilik dünyanın en zor mesleği olarak gösterilmekte, sanırım ikinci sırada da gemicilik varmış. (Orwell, gemicilikte de işçi ölümlerinin çok üst nicellerde gezindiğini söylüyor. Madencilikten sonra ikinci sıradaymış. Elbette o dönemde. Günümüzde gemiciliğin madenciliğe göre çok daha ilerlediğini ve işçilerini güvence altına aldığını tahmin edebiliyorum.) Neyse, bu dünyanın en zor mesleği madencilik ile daha önce 'Germinal' ve 'Oğullar ve Sevgilileri'n de karşılaşmıştım. Ancak burada bilimsel bir şekilde, istatiklerle olaya yaklaşma fırsatı buluyorsunuz. Bu da acımasız tablonun iyice gözler önüne serilmesini sağlıyor. Ne yazık ki insanın, insanlıktan çıktığı; korkunç bir meslek kolu madencilik. Dünyanın her çarkında önemli bir kolu döndüren kömürü (Şuanda da yerini petrol dolduruyor.) elde etmek adına nelerin heba edildiğini tüm açıklığı ile idrak edebiliyorsunuz.

Bu idrak elbette sanayi devrimi sonrası yükselen kapitalist ekonominin, oluşturduğu makinesinin kalbine inmeyi sağlıyor. Ayn Rand'ın 'Atlas Vazgeçti'si ne denli güzelleme yapılabilecek noktaların üzerinde seyrediyorsa, 'Wigan İskelesi Yolu' o denli taşlaması yapılabilecek şeylerin üzerinde duruyor. Kapitalizmin kendinden getirdiği sınıf farkları ve alt kesimin acımasız bir hayat tarzı içinde tutulması, insanı küfredecek bir sinirin içine sokuyor.

Kitabın bir yerinde sosyalist anlayışa inanmadan önce mevcut düzeni görüp incelemek istediğini söylüyor Orwell. Çok sağlamacı ve sağlam bir yaklaşım. Birinci bölümde çoğunluklu olarak gözlemlerini aktaran yazar, ikinci bölümde biraz daha otobiyografik ögeler taşıyan bir incelemeye imza atıyor ve düşünceleri ile hayatı üzerinden görüşleri, fikirleri masaya yatırıyor.

İnsan hakları, işçi hakları, çalışma koşulları konusunda bir hayli yol kat ettiğini bildiğimiz Avrupa'nın bundan altmış/yetmiş sene önce ne bokum bir yer olduğunu da ayrıca anlıyoruz. İngiltere kuşkusuz dünya tarihinin en haysiyetsiz tarihlerinden birine sahip olan ülkelerin başında gelir. Yalnız sömürgecilik konusunda zalimlik bayrağını göklere dikmediğini gösteren bir metin oluyor bu kitap. aynı zamanda kendi ülkesinin içerisinde gelişen, kapitalist canavarın doyurulması için gelişen kanserli dokuları da çok güzel bir şekilde gözler önüne seriyor.

Profile Image for Araz Goran.
817 reviews3,517 followers
September 21, 2020
هذه ليست رواية بل أقرب للعمل الصحفي، يحاول فيها أورويل جرد المجتمع البريطاني في ثلاثينيات القرن الماضي وتفحص المشاكل التي تعاني منها البلاد وخاصة في الأنحاء الفقيرة منها، يسافر فيها إلى مدينة ويغان حيث منجم العمال الأشبه بالجحيم الذي يوصف بأنه من أبشع الأماكن للعمل، حيث لا يكاد العامل ينجو فيها من موت أو عاهة أبدية أو أصابات متدرجة، مكان موحش وجهنمي، كل هذا بأسم التقدم والتحضر، يزج بهؤلاء المساكين في أنفاق تحت الأرض وبعمل مجهد وخطير لقاء بضع جنيهات، لا يكاد العامل يشفي بها غليل فقره..

يصف أورويل المجتمع البريطاني حينذاك بأنه مجتمع كاسد، تكثر فيه البطالة بشكل مريع، الاعانات الحكومية لا تكفي، يتكدس الناس في بيوت أشبه بالأكواخ، بعض الناس لا يجد سوى قاطرة قديمة أو منزل مهجور ليأوي نفسه، العمال يتكدسون في غرف خانقة، المجتمع كما يصفه أورويل هو على شفا انهيار اقتصادي، الناس جائعون ومناظر بعض المدن أشبه بكهل يحاول أن يعيل نفسه، يلقي أورويل اللوم على السياسيين وكيف أوصلوا البلاد لهذه المرحلة، السياسة الرأسمالية المتوحشة التي عادة ما تمتع مجموعة متخمة زائدة الكروش من البشر وتنسى أن الأغلبية الساحقة تداس تحت العمل اليومي القاسِ لقاء فتات المال، الرأسمالية من جهة والاشتراكية الطوباوية من جهة أخرى، تلك الفكرة الأخرى التي لا تقل فوضوية وعدم قابلية للتطبيق في أي مكان، يشعر أورويل بالخذلان لأنه تبنى في سنوات ما فكرة الاشتراكية، يصفها بأنها نزوة عاطفة، إذا حتى الاشتراكية بما تدعيه من قيم ومبادئ إنما توفر للجميع الشقاء نفسه والعيشة المملة نفسها وتخلق عالماً متساوياً صحيح، ولكنها في نفس الوقت تمنح الجميع القدر نفسه من الشقاء والتعب والفقر حتى..

كتاب جيد يغوص فيه أورويل في أساس مشكلة الفقر وحلول الحكومات التعيس ومعاناة المواطن البسيط في كسب قوت اليوم ومشكلة الأنظمة الحاكمة، يذهب أورويل إلى الأحياء الفقيرة لا بصفته صحفياً بل ينتحل صفة واحد منهم ويعيش معهم ويذكر يومياتهم وطريقة حياتهم، كتاب جيد ومثير للاهتمام وفي نفس الوقت يحمل الكثير من الواقعية ويجسد الفقر كما هو حرفياً..
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews389 followers
May 10, 2021
I got conflicting feelings about this. On one hand George Orwell writes very good and informative about the living conditions and his views on socialism. I learned a lot I didn't know but geez it was boring/tedious to read. It feelt like I was back in school listening to a teacher that while was talking about interesting stuff, wasn't a very good at making it enjoyable to listen to. I enjoy George Orwell novels so much more because while it was bleak and serious the reading experience was top knoch
Profile Image for Greg.
370 reviews110 followers
October 27, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Fiona.
828 reviews437 followers
January 27, 2013
I read this in the 80s and it has stayed with me since. I'd had no idea about the conditions the miners in particular worked in in the 1930s and it left me feeling very humbled and quite outraged.
Profile Image for Janelle.
1,161 reviews141 followers
October 10, 2022
A really interesting read particularly part 2 with Orwell’s opinions of the British class system, Fascism, Socialism and much more. The first part details the living and working conditions of the miners and unemployed in the north of England.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,377 reviews467 followers
May 13, 2018
Fascinating and still relevant. The narration seemed wrong at first, but I think was perfect. This book is a bizarre mix of raw statistics, moving stories, humorous opinions, and clever political strategies.
Profile Image for Nikola Jankovic.
550 reviews109 followers
June 25, 2020
Esej o radu u rudniku sa početka ove knjige pročitao sam ranije - i prepričavao ga više puta. Sjajno, ponovo sam pomislio da ovo spada među najbolje stvari koje sam pročitao. Ako ništa drugo, treba pročitati barem ovo, menja pogled na svet. A tek ako pokušaš da uradiš nešto onako kako se to radi u rudniku...

Prvi deo Puta u Vigan je takav: živopisno opisuje uslove života i rada radničke klase Velike Britanije pred Drugi svetski rat. Na trenutke možda zazvuči kao ekonomska studija (tabele sa prihodima i rashodima tipične rudarske porodice, na primer), ali uglavnom je to sjajno čitalačko iskustvo.

Pri kraju prvog dela Orvel objašnjava zašto je postao socijalista, uprkos tome što je odrastao kao deo buržoazije. U drugom delu prelazi na klasne razlike, opisuje britanski imperijalizam (5 godina radio u Burmi kao policajac) i zbog čega je njegov veliki protivnik. Poredi imperijalnu tiraniju Engleza u Aziji sa tiranijom koja se vrši nad radničkom klasom na ostrvu.

"Svaki čovek koji misli svojom glavom zna da je socijalizam izlaz iz ovakve situacije, pod uslovom da se pošteno primenjuje. Socijalizam se toliko zasniva na zdravom razumu da se ponekad čudim kako već negde nije uspostavljen. Ideja da svi moramo da sarađujemo, da svako obavlja svoj deo posla i za to bude nagrađen po zaslugama, toliko je očigledna da nikome ne pada na pamet da je odbije, osim ako nema zadnje namere da sebi osigura dodatni profit."

Orvel nastavlja sa svojim objašnjenjem zašto socijalizam nije šire prihvaćen, ali daje i začuđujuće aktuelan pogled na društvo tehnologije i stalnog napretka. Iako se slaže da bez napretka nema života, i da ga moramo prihvatiti, jasno mu je da postoji gomila nedostataka društva kakvo postajemo.

"Cilj tehničkog napretka je da iskoreni ljudsku potrebu za stvaralačkim radom. Krajnji cilj je da ljudsko biće svede na mozak u boci." Ovo su 1930-te, šta tek da kažemo mi? Ovaj deo o propasti ljudskog ukusa, kreativnosti i o nadiranju mašina, zvuči kao nešto što su toliko decenija kasnije pisali Alessandro Baricco u Varvari ili Harari u 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Na kraju, tu je upustvo socijalistima kako promeniti politiku da bi je načinili interesantnijom. Lektira za levičarske političare danas. Treba nagovarati ne samo proletarijat, već i službenike, činovnike u državnim službama, prodavce, medicinske radnike... Čak i ljudi koji se bave svojim manjim poslom, po primanjima i po načinu života blizu su proletarijatu.

Svi smo proletarijat, a ključne reči su "Jednakost i sloboda!"

Levičari su nerazumljivi i komplikuju poruke. Preporučuje:
"Jedino što bi moglo da nas spoji su ideali socijalizma - jednakost i sloboda. Ovi ideali su skoro potpuno zaboravljeni. Oni su sahranjeni duboko ispod zemlje, ispod mnogih slojeva nerazumljivih teorija, partijskih sukoba i "napretka", dok nisu postali kao dijamanti sakriveni ispod gomile otpada. Posao socijaliste je da taj dijamant iznese na svetlost dana. Jednakost i sloboda! To su reči koje treba da odzvanjaju širom sveta. Dugo je đavo imao najbolju melodiju."

Ovako sad, možda zvuči kao socijalistički manifest, koji danas više nije aktuelan, ali opisi života rudara... možda bolji i od onih u Žerminalu.
Profile Image for George.
2,193 reviews
July 7, 2019
An interesting, thought provoking non fiction book of two parts. The first part details the living and working conditions of coal miners in England. The second part is a well reasoned essay on ‘socialism’ and the practical issues as to why the working class have not fully embraced ‘socialism’ as a political ideology to improve their working and living conditions.

Orwell goes into the underground coal mines to obtain first hand knowledge of the working conditions. He reports that the coal miner’s work begins when the coal miner is at the coal face and that the journey to where the coal miner’s work actually begins can take up to one and a half hours from the time that the coal miners leaves his place of abode to the time he arrives at the coal face. The journey includes walking along a tunnel bent over for hundreds of feet. He reports on how difficult it is for the coal miner to wash and clean himself at the end of every shift.

Orwell lives with coal miners in boarding houses and reports the poor living conditions. Accommodation is very cramped, food is not very nutritious and the lavatory can be over 70 yards away and in many instances, one lavatory services over 30 people and line ups are not unusual!

There are lots of interesting, thought provoking sentences, for example:
‘One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.’
‘..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 recognised. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon curlers or market gardeners.’

Profile Image for Jim.
365 reviews90 followers
August 31, 2021
I always wondered why the British soldiers in WWI photos always seemed to be in such good humor. Now I know...the conditions for the working man were so horrendous back on the island that even the mud of Flanders must have seemed an improvement. Orwell takes the first part - let's say the first half - of this book to inform the reader of the bleak existence of the working poor in England. The reason for this is that he is setting the stage for the second part, in which he extols the virtues of socialism as being the cure for these ills.

Our man George doesn't make a very strong case. His points are not supported by hard data, and he detracts from the importance of his point by casting aspersions on people he takes issue with, such as "sandal-wearers" and feminists. He would have been better off to stick to the point. He had identified a real problem, and presented a solution that he wasn't quite sure how to bring about. He even goes as far as to admit that the more intelligent people seemed to be on the opposing side of the issue. I think he was right, at least on this point.

Orwell didn't just talk socialism. He would fight for his beliefs in the Spanish Civil War, thereby making himself one of the few writers with political opinions to actually put his nuts on the line for the cause. An interesting read, but a little too caustic and mean-spirited for my liking.
Profile Image for Nahed.E.
597 reviews1,525 followers
January 1, 2016

الكتاب الأول في هذه السنة ..
وهي القراءة الرابعة للرائع جورج أورويل

أولا هي ليست رواية كما توقعت / أو كما آملت ..
هي جزء من سيرته الذاتية وسط مناجم الفحم ومتاعب العمال وسوء الحياة في لندن وحياة السخرة التي يعاني منها أصحاب الطبقة العاملة ..
فالكتاب جزآن .. جزء عن حياة العمال في مناجم الفحم ..
وهو كثير كثير التفاصيل .. للدرجة التي جعلتني أقفز فوق كثير من الفقرات ..
أما القسم الثاني .. فيتحدث فيه عن سيرته الذاتية ثم رأيه في الاشتراكية ..

حسناً .. ربما لم أستمتع بالكتاب كما آملت ..
لكن لا أنكر أن براعة أورويل ظهرت في تذكر التفاصيل وكتابتها .. في قدرته علي رسم الحياة كما عايشها فتشعر أثناء القراءة أنك تحياها معه .. تشعر بحرقة نار الفحم علي وجهك وتري اللون الأسود وهو يُغرق أصابعك وتحس ببرودة مناخ لندن وهو يُدثرك من كل جانب ..
كانت براعته الكبري في كتابة التفاصيل ..
لذلك منحته 3 نجمات ..
وفقد معي نجمتين لشعوري بالملل في كثير من الصفحات
Profile Image for Mona M. Kayed .
275 reviews255 followers
July 6, 2015

مبهرة !

في كلّ مرة أشرع فيها بالقراءة لأورويل أوطّن النفس مسبقاً على العالم الغريب الذي سيقحمني فيه بأسلوب لا يضاهيه فيه أحد ، مرة أنت تجوب شوارع باريس و لندن جائعاً مع المتشردين، و مرة أنت محبوس في علبة مكعبة يطلقون عليها اسم "بيت" و الأخ الأكبر يراقبك في أدق تفاصيلك ، و مرة أنت تهبط إلى طبقات الأرض الداخلية لتنقب عن الفحم و تعيش معاناة العمال و تتصبب معهم عرقهم (كما في هذه الرواية) ..

لن أتطرق إلى تفصيلات الكتاب إذ أن جزءاً كبيراً من متعة القراءة لأورويل أن تكتشف بنفسك هذه العوالم الخفية، لكنني بالتأكيد أنصحكم بقراءتها ، و بشدة .
Profile Image for Pink.
537 reviews498 followers
August 7, 2015
This was definitely a book of two halves. The first section was reminiscent of Down and Out in Paris and London, although not as interesting. The second half was very representative of Orwell's essays, of which I've read most. So, where does that leave me feeling about this book? I didn't like it so much. I felt like I'd read most of it before and so that lessoned my enjoyment. I didn't learn anything knew here, but I still appreciated what Orwell had to say and think it's a worthwhile read if you've only tried his fiction.
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books268 followers
April 5, 2023
Всички казват, че тази книга била "сърцераздирателно описание на бедността и ужасите на Голямата депресия", но ако я смятат само за това, пропускат голяма част от написаното в нея.

Наистина, първите няколко глави описват живота на бедната работническа класа в индустриалните градове на Великобритания по времето, когато Голямата депресия е в разгара си. Макар за никой, който има баба и дядо, отраснали на село, да не е никаква изненада, че големи семейства тогава е трябвало да се свират в малки къщички и да оцеляват с малко пари, съвсем вярно си е, че в Англия и Шотландия по онова време мизерията е доста голяма и то не само благодарение на общата икономическа рецесия, която намалява световния пазар на въглищата им и остава много миньорски семейства без поминък.

Ако човек има очи да забележи, макар Оруел да не му обръща внимание, нито едно от тези семейства няма земя, не притежава къща, а живее под наем. За мен, като българин, който е виждал безброй хора да си строят сами къщите остава загадка как така нито един от тия работници, вместо да плащат половината си заплата за наем на така картинно описаните от автора мизерни къщици, не си построи сам къща. Всъщност не е никаква загадка, защото знам - законите там по това време изключват както свободната продажба на земя, така и свободният строеж, така че бедните не само не могат да си позволят да си купят земя и да я обработват или да си построят къща на нея, ами и ако си богат къща се строи трудно, така че няма достатъчно къщи и поради това наемите са високи.

Голяма част от книгата е отделена на описание на междукласовите отношения в британското общество и може да се каже, че точно те показват най-големи паралели със съвременния свят и политически климат. Оруеловото описание на образованата средна класа, която се прави на солидарна с работниците и гласува за социалистите и даже за комунистите, но всъщност не питае нищо друго, освен отвращение от работническата класа и нейните интереси и начин на жи��от може да се види ясно и днес както в САЩ и Великобритания, така и у нас.

Макар от икономическите виждания и разбирания на Оруел да има доста още какво да се желае, неговата най-голяма сила са социалните и междучовешки отношения и там книгата блести дори в последните глави, където той разглежда социализма и фашизма (две много модерни тогава системи за държавно устройство - не забравяйте, че по това време Хитлер в Германия осъществява икономически чудо, а пропагандната информация, идваща от СССР я прави да изглежда просперираща и незасегната от кризата държава).
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