George Orwell online

>> Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The other day, I tweeted that I needed to be reading more George Orwell. I primarily meant his essays, because I've already read a bit of his fiction. (Although those deserve a reread, particularly as I read them at a very young age.) I have two collected volumes of his essays, which I'm eager to delve into. (Some day...eventually...) But in the meantime, my friend Paul Harrill sends along this great link to Orwell's essays online. I very quickly fell into reading a couple of them ("Good Bad Books" and "In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse") and had to make myself stop or be up all night reading Orwell when I had other things I had to get done.

"Good Bad Books" is an interesting look at how some books, which are not written to be highbrow entertainment, are still good books, while others, meant to be heady, literary tomes, are in fact bad books. That's my attitude as well: sometimes a book can simply be too "overwritten" for its own good, and many books dismissed by critics and readers as "popular" may very well stand the test of time. "In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse" on the other hand was more of a history lesson for me, as I learned that Wodehouse was captured by the Nazis in Belgium during World War II, and that he was such a political innocent that he didn't see anything wrong with accepting a Nazi invitation to get on German radio and tell jokes about his own internment. Wodehouse was pilloried as a traitor back home for trading his services for his release, but Orwell (writing some four years after the war, in this case) makes the case that Wodehouse was, in a way, his own Bertie Wooster--a well-meaning, genial fool oblivious to the harsher realities of the world.

Perhaps I'll try to work in an essay of his every now and then, savor them, rather than reading them all at once.


Teresa March 2, 2010 at 3:04 PM  

Such a different style of writing, essays. Not something you can just pick up and read, to me there has to be a reason. It's been a while since I left the world of fiction and traipsed across an author's thoughts, I may have to go find some of my favorite to re-read-I may have to just remember my favorites! George Orwell is a great start. Charles Lamb, Flannery O'Connor…

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