A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Orwell and the critical discussions surrounding his work.
"Big Brother Is Watching You," "Two plus two make five," "Some animals are more equal than others"… George Orwell's two famous novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, have added numerous phrases to the lexicon we use to describe our world. Though both novels were written as critiques of communist Russia, their relevance has endured for decades after the end of the Cold War. With the advent of surveillance, the spread of euphemistic corporate and political jargon, and the growing prevalence of demagogic rhetoric, the early decades of the twenty first century have shown Orwell to have been right about much more than the dangers of communism. His prescience cast such a long shadow over twentieth century that we are in many ways still living within it today.
Edited by John Rodden, a renowned Orwell scholar, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the British writer. For readers who are studying Orwell for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of his life and four essays survey the critical reception of Orwell's work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Orwell among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other essays that explore topics like Orwell's politics; his use of fable, satire and allegory; his outlook on science and technology; his reputation as a public intellectual; and his accomplishments as a journalist and documentarian. Uniquely, this volume also contains a short memoir by Dione Venables, whose cousin was a close childhood friend of Orwell. Works discussed include Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, Homage to Catalonia and The Road to Wigan Pier, and some Orwell's most memorable essays, like "Politics and the English Language" and "Why I Write." Among the contributors are Peter Davison, Eugene Goodheart, Gorman Beauchamp, Peter Stansky, and Loraine Saunders.
Rounding out the volume are a chronology of Orwell's life and a list of his principal publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this seminal author in greater depth.
Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index