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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4271 comments Mod
George Orwell must be one of the authors who is mentioned most in the news, with so many of his predictions coming true - including Big Brother watching us in various ways.

George Orwell

As well as his most famous novels, Animal Farm and 1984, he also wrote ground-breaking non-fiction such as his two explorations of poverty, Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier.

What have you read by Orwell, and which books of his made the strongest impression on you?


message 2: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 16 comments Funny. Last night I was thinking of reading or rereading Orwell and this morning I saw your announcement. I read Animal Farm and 1984 long ago and The Road to Wigan Pier and A Collection of Essays more recently.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
We definitely plan to read some Orwell together, Linda, and hope to feature lots more great 20th Century authors.


message 4: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4271 comments Mod
I keep thinking of Orwell whenever I hear politicians' comments which seem to be similar to Newspeak!

I've read a lot by him over the years and love his essays and non-fiction - I also really like his lesser-known novels, such as Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up for Air - I remember buying a second-hand paperback of that in pre-internet days where someone had written some thoughtful notes in pencil at the side, so it was almost like having a discussion with them.


message 5: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (bibliohound) | 458 comments I loved Animal Farm and Burmese Days. Recently I read Homage to Catalonia, about his time fighting in the Spanish Civil War - I wonder what he would make of current events there?

1984 has been on my tbr for ages - I feel like I've read it as I know so much of the plot from other sources but I haven't actually!


message 6: by Haaze (last edited Oct 22, 2017 10:27AM) (new)

Haaze | 146 comments I very much like Orwell's works, but not for his famous 1984 or Animal Farm. Instead it is his more self-biographical works such as Burmese Days and Homage to Catalonia that have made me gravitate towards him as an author. One of my many projects is to try to read his complete essays including volumes such as An Age Like This: 1920-1940 and My Country Right or Left: 1940-1943. Ah, give me more time...!




message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Came across this forthcoming joint biography, which I think looks very interesting - Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom Churchill and Orwell The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks

Today, as liberty and truth are increasingly challenged, the figures of Churchill and Orwell loom large. Exemplars of Britishness, they preserved individual freedom and democracy for the world through their far-sighted vision and inspired action, and cast a long shadow across our culture and politics. In Churchill & Orwell, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas E. Ricks masterfully argues that these extraordinary men are as important today as they ever were.

Churchill and Orwell stood in political opposition to each other, but were both committed to the preservation of freedom. However, in the late 1930s they occupied a lonely position: democracy was much discredited, and authoritarian rulers, fascist and communist, were everywhere in the ascent. Unlike others, they had the wisdom to see that the most salient issue was human liberty – and that any government that denies its people basic rights is a totalitarian menace to be resisted. Churchill and Orwell proved their age’s necessary men, and this book reveals how they rose from a precarious position to triumph over the enemies of freedom. Churchill may have played the larger role in Hitler’s defeat, but Orwell’s reckoning with the threat of authoritarian rule in 1984 and Animal Farm defined the stakes of the Cold War and continues to inspire to this day. Their lives are an eloquent testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it takes to stay true to it.


message 8: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
I adore Orwell and revisited much of his work back in 2013-4.


You are possibly aware of his six rules for writing, which are...

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

There are many writers I've encountered who could benefit from these simple rules.

The original essay where Orwell published these rules is well worth reading. Here it is.


message 9: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Vinicius | 67 comments Thanks for the post, Nigeyb. I appreciated it a lot!


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments I'm about to start reading Homage to Catalonia.
I've been to Barcelona a few time and will reacquaint myself with it early in the new year. ( I am Barca fan too as well as being from the red half of Mcr).
The hotel I'm staying at is just off Las Ramblas less than 100m from "Placa de George Orwell".


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments Had a random thought, as I am reading Homage to Catalonia I will have a perception of Spain/Barcelona and as I been to both can compare the book against the Barcelona experience.
Another of Orwell's novels is Road to Wigan Pier. What is your view of Wigan today compared to the book, yes I know we are subject to news etc, but if you were to travel to Wigan what would be your expectation based on the book and what would you not expect to find?


message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "What would you not expect to find (in Wigan)?"


The Wigan Casino


message 13: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "What would you expect to find (in Wigan)?"


Wigan Athletic - and their ground

Some kind of Industrial Heritage museum

Shopping Centre


message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Wigan, to me, means Northern Soul :)


message 15: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Wigan Athletic are also currently top of League One so presumably you'd also find happy football WAFC supporters there too


And yep, Wigan Casino is synonymous with Northern Soul and it's a crying shame the local council pulled it down in 1982

I get my kicks out on the floor.....




message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments ah yes the Wigan Casino.
Yes there is WAFC and the Wigan Warriors who are more globally well known.
No one mentioned Haigh Hall, my avatar is a photograph I took one winter's day.
My partner a proud Wiganer whose mother was born in 1933 does not recall the slums that Orwell describe. She lived about 600yrds from where Orwell stayed.
This worries me whether what Orwell wrote was in someway 'selective'.
Is Orwell's view of Wigan a positive or negative not at that time but today as a legacy. (As an aside the term Pie-Eaters does not refer to pastries consumed in the town it is a political insult).


message 17: by Nigeyb (last edited Dec 27, 2017 12:26AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
This article from 2011 picks up on a few of your points Michael...


The Road to Wigan Pier 75 years on

David Sharrock retraces George Orwell's journey that laid bare Britain's north-south divide, and finds a growing sense of hard times here again


https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Interestingly, there was a news article only a few days ago about the North-South divide in education. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-4...


message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments I have just read the Guardian article. I am rather disappointed, it seems to the journalist set out to with an agenda and wrote about what he was looking for.
Firstly he looked no further than the town centre - which could be anywhere.
Wigan has no-chain eateries, including a long eststablish vegan cafe, there are no chain coffee shops as well as bars selling craft beer. There is no mention of Haigh Hall Country Park which I run or walk through at weekends.
For those who haven't been to Wigan (by the way I'm not a Wiganer) would rely on Orwell or journalistic scribblings will come to a very negative view.
What is your view based on what you have read and can you be certain of bias conscious or otherwise they may have help you form that opinion.
PS hope you don't see this as a rant, it's an honest view of what I perceive as negative portrayal of Northern towns adhering to the stereotype. I would imagine some of the issues facing Wigan face many towns North and South.


message 20: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments Access to quality education is the best way a society can progress as it big asset is not raw materials but it people. Get the right people in the right jobs then the country will prosper. Social mobility is in vogue now just to show that you can achieve. But this is a snapshot of yesterday not a look into the future. Again there appears to be North - South divide. Not an East - West divide, I am thinking of the South West.
I think in Michael Young' s book The Rise of the Meritocracy touches on this in it's early chapters.
I do not think the The North will ever rid itself of its image.


message 21: by Nigeyb (last edited Dec 27, 2017 08:11AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Interesting Michael - perhaps the Guardian journalist and George Orwell just went to have their preconceptions confirmed? Perception bias is a very powerful psychological tendency not to be objective about places, people or situations, and difficult to overcome.

I must admit I am both impressed and amazed to learn that....

Michael wrote: "Wigan has no-chain eateries"

How wonderful. I don't think I've ever been to a large town or city in the UK without the usual suspects. Even Totnes in Devon has a few chain places.

Michael wrote: "a long established vegan cafe"

Love it!

Michael wrote: "bars selling craft beer"

Sounds like my kinda town.


message 22: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments When I wrote no-chain eateries I was referring to independent eateries or course there are the usual suspects national chain providers of burgers, fried chicken, coffee and alike but at least I can choose to go to a local independent coffee shop, or pub that sales locally brewed ales and there cafes and restaurants that are independent too.


message 23: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Ah. Thanks for clarifying. I did have a quick look on Google maps and, within a couple of roads, I spotted a Subway and a Wetherspoons, so did wonder exactly what you meant by your comment.


message 24: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod


The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius

I notice that The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius is getting a new spiffy Penguin Modern Classics edition

You can read the essay here....

http://orwell.ru/library/essays/lion/...

(Something I have yet to do - but will put that right soon)

It might make a good nomination for our George Orwell group read

George Orwell's moving reflections on the English character and his passionate belief in the need for political change.

The Lion and the Unicorn was written in London during the worst period of the blitz. It is vintage Orwell, a dynamic outline of his belief in socialism, patriotism and an English revolution. His fullest political statement, it has been described as 'one of the most moving and incisive portraits of the English character' and is as relevant now as it ever has been.


message 25: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Great cover, Nigeyb! Only the first week of January and publishers are tempting us with great books - both new and re-published.


message 26: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 04, 2018 02:23AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
I am currently reading, and really enjoying, Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time by Hilary Spurling. It's amazing just how many notable people Tony was good friends with, including George Orwell. Tony gave a reading at George's funeral.

Hilary Spurling observes that, when George died...

..."1984 had made a powerful impact and Animal Farm was beginning to be widely known, but George had yet nothing like the reputation that eventually made him a key figure of the twentieth century"

I was amazed to discover George Orwell was a relatively minor writer when he died.

So why do some books and authors fall out of favour whilst others go on to enjoy longevity? The answer, according to Christopher Fowler in his very readable 'Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared' is far more arbitrary than you might imagine: fashion, economics, luck, film adaptations, and many other variables might play a part. What is clear is that the majority of authors eventually disappear, including those whose books become touchstones for many of our lives. Whilst others, like George, can enjoy a posthumous reappraisal.

'Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared' consists of 100 short, snappy pen pictures of all manner of forgotten writers (or forgotten books by well known writers) taken from a series of articles originally written by Christopher Fowler for The Independent newspaper.


message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Invisible Ink looks really interesting. I finally tried Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series but wasn't that taken by it though. I was disappointed as I'd heard so much about it that I was expecting something wonderful.


message 28: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 04, 2018 05:33AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
I think you'd enjoy 'Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared' Susan - a quick and easy read.


That said, I'm surprised you didn't enjoy Bryant and May. Too knockabout? Whilst it's not a patch on Smiley, or the Slow Horses, I quite liked it. Then again, I've only read two (I think) and have no immediate plans to read anymore which tells me I can't gave been that taken with the series.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
I didn't dislike it... I read the first one and it was OK. I liked the main characters, but I found it dragged a bit. I have been told that the second book is better and I will get to that, but I don't have any real sense of urgency.


message 30: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Murtha I have to get hold of Invisible Ink, as it is right up my alley. Rediscovering semi-forgotten authors is one of my favorite reading activities!


message 31: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments For all those interested in Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared, be prepared to increase your TBR list. Good book though.


message 32: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 06, 2018 01:52AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
My 14 year old son has just finished reading 1984 by George Orwell and he was really impressed

Good to know 1984 can still capture the imagination of young people.




message 33: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Murtha In another Goodreads group, the 17-year-old son of a member was staying up until the wee hours reading Moby Dick because it was so good.

I've had high school students here in Mexico who were deep into Virginia Woolf and Haruki Murakami.

The Republic of Letters continues to recruit, but we have to make sure that young people know they're invited.


message 34: by Judy (last edited Jan 06, 2018 07:24AM) (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4271 comments Mod
What George Orwell biographies has everyone read? We have two in our current poll, and one is winning at the moment.

The one I have read most recently is Orwell by D.J. Taylor, which I really liked (one of the bios in the poll). Many years ago I remember being impressed by The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell by George Woodcock, who was a friend of Orwell so it has an immediacy to it, although I'm sure it is probably dated now.

I have also read George Orwell: The Authorised Biography by Michael Shelden, which I don't remember very well - I think I've read others but must admit I'm not sure now which ones!

There seem to be all kinds of books coming out about Orwell all the time.

One quite intriguing title is Orwell's Nose: A Pathological Biography Orwell's Nose A Pathological Biography by John Sutherland by John Sutherland - part of the Goodreads blurb:

In 2012 writer John Sutherland permanently lost his sense of smell. At about the same time, he embarked on a rereading of George Orwell and—still coping with his recent disability—noticed something peculiar: Orwell was positively obsessed with smell. In this original, irreverent biography, Sutherland offers a fresh account of Orwell’s life and works, one that sniffs out a unique, scented trail that wends from Burmese Days through Nineteen Eighty-Four and on to The Road to Wigan Pier.

Sutherland airs out the odors, fetors, stenches, and reeks trapped in the pages of Orwell’s books...


I always find Sutherland very readable, so I may well seek this one out!


message 35: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4271 comments Mod
Another book on Orwell I spotted which sounds rather odd is The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War The Same Man George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War by David Lebedoff by David Lebedoff.

Part of the blurb:

One climbed to the very top of the social ladder, the other chose to live among tramps. One was a celebrity at twenty-three, the other virtually unknown until his dying days. One was right-wing and religious, the other a socialist and an atheist. Yet, as this ingenious and important new book reveals, at the heart of their lives and writing, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell were essentially the same man.

Orwell is best known for Animal Farm and 1984, Waugh for Brideshead Revisited and comic novels like Scoop and Vile Bodies. However different they may seem, these two towering figures of twentieth-century literature are linked for the first time in this engaging and unconventional biography, which goes beyond the story of their amazing lives to reach the core of their beliefs–a shared vision that was startlingly prescient about our own troubled times...


Not sure what to think about this one.


message 36: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
I haven't read any biography of Orwell, Judy, but I would like to. I did read a short book about his wife,

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell The Girl from the Fiction Department A Portrait of Sonia Orwell by Hilary Spurling

Orwell's Nose: A Pathological Biography Orwell's Nose A Pathological Biography by John Sutherland
is an interesting title!

Some time ago, John Sutherland permanently lost his sense of smell. At about the same time he embarked on a re-reading of George Orwell’s works, and his lack of olfactory sense cast an entirely new light on the re-evaluation. What he now noticed was just how acutely attuned to scent Orwell was: rich descriptions of odours, fetors and reeks occur throughout his works, from Winston Smith’s apartment building in Nineteen Eighty-Four: ‘The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats,’ to John Flory’s concubine Ma Hla May in Burmese Days: ‘A mingled scent of sandalwood, garlic, coconut oil and the jasmine in her hair floated from her.’
Orwell’s Nose is an original and imaginative account of the life and work of George Orwell, exploring the ‘scent narratives’ that abound in Orwell’s fiction and non-fiction. Along the way the author elucidates questions that remain unanswered in previous biographies, and addresses gaps in the evidence of the writer’s life and legacy. Orwell covered his tracks well; this illuminating and irreverent book provides a new understanding of one of our most iconic and influential writers.


message 37: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 07, 2018 01:34AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I haven't read any biography of Orwell, Judy, but I would like to. I did read a short book about his wife,

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell "


I'm keen to find out more about Sonia Orwell. Anthony Powell is very complimentary about her - and he was also big mates with George. I know some see her as very opportunistic. Julian Maclaren-Ross was completely obsessed by her and stalked her for a long time. As Anthony Powell mentioned to Hilary Spurling, a less robust person would have been driven mad by JMR's attentions.


message 38: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "Susan wrote: "I haven't read any biography of Orwell, Judy, but I would like to. I did read a short book about his wife,

[book:The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell|256..."


That's a bit creepy, Nigeyb! I read the book about Sonia Orwell when it first came out and I recall that I just picked it up in Waterstones as I liked the cover! I think I would like to re-read it after reading his biography.


message 39: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 07, 2018 02:48AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Creepy in the extreme.


Julian Maclaren-Ross is not the only one of my favourite authors to have stalked someone.

The woman in this photo...



...on the front of Film Weekly magazine is actress Geraldine Fitzgerald. Patrick Hamilton became obsessed by her - stalked her basically - telephoning and hanging around outside her flat.

Her unattainably was mirrored in Bone's relationship with Netta in Hangover Square. Geraldine Fitzgerald was the basis for Netta, and in a sense this book could be Hamilton's revenge on her given the unflattering portrait.


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Yes, I recall reading that, Nigeyb. Hmmm, it has taken a LONG while for stalking to be taken seriously and, even now, the police do not deal with it well at all. Of course, Ian McEwan also wrote a novel about a man being stalked.


message 41: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Murtha There are great stories about Julian Maclaren-Ross in Anthony Cronin's Dead as Doornails, which I just finished and highly recommend. You may never look at the literary and artistic life in the same way. The book is extremely funny but also disturbing and pathetic. Most of the writers and artists that Cronin knew well in his 20s and 30s were dead before he turned 40 (hence the title). Alcohol problems were rife among them, along with various forms of psychological disturbance. When I finished the book, I realized that I would not wish to have had a single one of the experiences that Cronin describes, or to have known ANY of his friends (Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Flann O'Brien, etc.). As Trump would say, Sad!


message 42: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Thanks Patrick


I will be reading Dead as Doornails: A Memoir by Anthony Cronin soon.


message 43: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Murtha You will not be disappointed, trust me. It's a fantastic book.


message 44: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1026 comments Susan wrote: "I haven't read any biography of Orwell, Judy, but I would like to. I did read a short book about his wife,

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell [bookcov..."


I have this book but haven't read it yet.


message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Jan, you are so like me. We both have far more books than we can read :)


message 46: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 332 comments This morning in Wigan I picked up a flyer for 'Beyond Wigan Pier' The Musical.
The flyer has a painting of Orwell on it. This musical is written and performed by Wiganers and premieres 27 April this year. I think it is intended to show the constrast between Orwell's novel and Wigan today. Not sure by direct reference or just this this Wigan talent today.


message 47: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
Having re-read, Down and Out in Paris and London and read The Last Man in Europe, for our George Orwell themed month coming up, I am pleased to say that - rather than having had enough Orwell - I am keen to read more. I enjoyed The Last Man in Europe a lot (it probably helped that I have not yet read a biography of the great man) and want to re-read 1984 before reading a biography. I also want to read Brave New World to compare and, as I have never read it before.


message 48: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8549 comments Mod
Great news Susan - he has long been a firm favourite. I am sure you'll find something to enjoy in all his major works

Michael, that sounds very intriguing. Are you going? Please keep us updated.


message 49: by Jan C (new)


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9067 comments Mod
That looks interesting, Jan. Will be interested to hear your thoughts when you finish.


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