Our Classical Journey discussion

16 views
Books Read in 2017-2018 > Coming Up For Air - Spoilers

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss the book freely!


message 2: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Coming Up for Air is a novel by George Orwell, first published in June 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. It combines premonitions of the impending war with images of an idyllic Thames-side Edwardian era childhood. The novel is pessimistic, with its view that speculative builders, commercialism and capitalism are killing the best of rural England, "everything cemented over", and there are great new external threats.

Taken from Wikipedia


message 3: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Just started reading it, and so far it is a book of one man's criticism of aspects of modernity (like the unpleasantness of buying things at a checkout). I was struct by how this seems to be the exact opposite of the book The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker in which the protagonist is constantly commenting on the delights of aspects to modernity (delighting in and be fascinated with concepts such as escalators, putting on deodorant, and buying things at a checkout).

I think that Coming Up for Air is good in its own way, but if you want a different take on modernity and little daily rituals like getting ready for work, I would recommend looking into The Mezzanine.


message 4: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
I've read a few pages but nothing is really happening yet. Hope it picks up.


message 5: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments In terms of the moral of the story, it seems to be that one shouldn't allow oneself to be consumed by thoughts of the past or future.

This becomes explicit at the end of the story where the protagonist states: "Why had I bothered about the future and the past; seeing as the future and the past don't matter." This statement is backed up through the anxiety and worry that memories of the past and thoughts of the future bring to him and other characters throughout the book (for an example taken from another character, his wife's life seems to be crippled by constant worries of future poverty).

In contrast to the suffering that comes from thoughts of the past and future, there is one part in the book where the protagonist seems to be in complete peace in his present life (I think that the periods of happiness that are in flashbacks should be discounted, partly because they could just be the result of nostalgia - looking at the past with rose colored glasses). That is when he is present in the moment picking flowers and noticing a pond. In that moment he explicitly states that he is at "peace." This peace does not last and leads to a misadventure of trying to regain what is un-regainable, but it is a truly happy moment for an otherwise deeply unhappy person.

In this book Orwell seems to be advocating a sense of present mindfulness. In a book I read recently called Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein states that "... eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." In this book I feel that Orwell is saying: "A happy life belongs to those who live in the present."


message 6: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
I wasn't enamored with this book. Written in first person usually doesn't work for me. It took a long time for me to get into it. Humorous in spots but it certainly wasn't any 1984 which I enjoyed tremendously. 😊


message 7: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Loretta wrote: "I wasn't enamored with this book. Written in first person usually doesn't work for me. It took a long time for me to get into it. Humorous in spots but it certainly wasn't any 1984 whic..."

I agree that it certainly was no "1984", "Animal Farm", or even one of his essays (I especially like his essay on teas preparation).

While I did like this book, it seemed to have been written by another person (a person who I personally think was a good writer, but was not at the same level as Orwell).


message 8: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
MJD wrote: "Loretta wrote: "I wasn't enamored with this book. Written in first person usually doesn't work for me. It took a long time for me to get into it. Humorous in spots but it certainly wasn't any [book..."

Oh my goodness! That's it! You said it so much better than me MJD!

What's the name of his essay on tea preparation?


message 9: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments The book that I read his tea essay, and other essays, was Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays.

While I do recommend the book in its entirety, you can read his essay on tea preparation here:

http://www.booksatoz.com/witsend/tea/...

_________________________________________________________________

As a side note, here is an essay on Christopher Hitchens (another British writer I like) on the same subject:
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_an...


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... MJD wrote: "The book that I read his tea essay, and other essays, was Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays.

While I do recommend the book in its entirety, you can read his essay on tea pre..."


I just read the Orwell essay and loved it! So funny and smart and bit sassy.


message 11: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Having read Studies in Pessimism: The Essays by Arthur Schopenhauer, I noticed that he touched upon the notions of living in the past vs. living in the present that I think is a central theme to this book.

In the essay "On the Vanity of Existence" he writes:

"That which has been no longer is; it as little exists as does that which has never been. But
everything that is in the next moment has been. Thus the most insignificant present has over the
most significant past the advantage of actuality, which means that the former bears to the latter
the relation of something to nothing."

and

"You could, to be sure, base on considerations of this kind a theory that the greatest wisdom
consists in enjoying the present and making this enjoyment the goal of life, because the present is
all that is real and everything else merely imaginary."

Here is a link to that essay in the book that I quoted above for anyone interested in the subject: https://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl2...


message 12: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Any comments on this book members?


back to top