Orwell’s animus for the Church was almost tantamount to his animus for despotism—he made little distinction between the malarkey of religion and the lethal mendacity of governments.
In a 1930 letter to his friend Max Plowman, Orwell comments on how we in the West locate truth in the Christian worldview because it’s supposedly so much more complex than childhood superstition: “I know this is so, but the is beyond me.
What other thinker has been both so fervidly claimed and derided by both the left and right?
Who else except Kafka do we credit with having seen the sinister future?
His assiduous annotations proclaim an expert’s lifelong immersion in the vital details of Orwellia.
He exemplifies the editor’s job: to correct the record while enhancing it with his own sharp insight.Ten years ago, in an essay called “Dragon Slayer,” Christopher Hitchens wrote this about his beau ideal of morality and intellectualism, George Orwell: “He owns the twentieth century, as a writer about fascism and communism and imperialism, in a way that no other writer in English can claim.” In 1968, Orwell’s friend and onetime schoolmate Anthony Powell wrote that “Orwell’s exposure of the ruthless, totalitarian nature of communism is his greatest political achievement.” Powell might have added “artistic achievement,” as well, since Orwell’s essays stand in the same deathless brigade as Montaigne’s.certainly augmented the exposure of which Powell writes, but no serious reader of Orwell doubts that he measured a rather inadequate novelist and that his real genius was for the political/literary essay and books of urgent reportage— have an ease of hand, a naturalness of form half absent from the novels.It’s always necessary to remember that our heroes are human—Orwell, above all others, would have insisted on that.He witnessed and reported on what blood-wet havoc stems from our maniacal making of heroes, from our masochistic need to be herded and lead.The intellectuals who are at present pointing out that democracy and fascism are the same thing etc. However, perhaps when the pinch comes the common people will turn out to be more intelligent than the clever ones.—Orwell’s careful pessimism is everywhere in his correspondence, because if you were alive and even sporadically sentient at this time, you should have understood that the pinch was coming.He’d seen that pinch firsthand in Spain, and some of the most remarkable missives in this volume read like dispatches from the bombed streets of Barcelona.In January of 1940 he wrote this to his publisher, Victor Gollancz: What worries me at present is the uncertainty as to whether the ordinary people in countries like England grasp the difference between democracy and despotism well enough to want to defend their liberties.One can’t tell until they see themselves menaced in some quite unmistakeable manner.By popular definition, no one was less Orwellian than Eric Blair.In his introduction to this volume, Davison writes, “Many of those who refer to Orwell seem not to have read much more than , if those.