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Denis Donoghue

20 December 1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. OrwellViews from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George​ Orwell 
by George​ Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... Orwell took little care of his manuscripts. He didn’t anticipate that collectors of such things would pay real money for them, and that universities would think it a privilege to turn a writer’s bits ...

Eric the Nerd

Ian Hamilton: The Utterly Complete Orwell

29 October 1998
The Complete Works of George​ Orwell 
edited by Peter Davidson.
Secker, £750, July 1998, 0 436 20377 4
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... address book, and the thought of looking for it, or indeed of looking for anything, afflicts him with acute suicidal impulses. The sorry creature described here is, alas, a book reviewer, as seen by GeorgeOrwell in 1946, the year in which illness and a sense of imminent prosperity forced, or allowed, him to cut down on his own burdensome reviewing chores. Orwell’s portrayal, called ‘Confessions of ...
24 January 1980
OrwellThe Transformation 
by Peter Stansky and William Abrahams.
Constable, 240 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 462250 7
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... GeorgeOrwell was one of the great self-mythologisers. He sought out extreme experiences, was a policeman in Burma and a pauper in Paris and London, lived among unemployed workers in the North of England and among ...

Orwellspeak

Julian Symons

9 November 1989
The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St George’ Orwell 
by John Rodden.
Oxford, 478 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 19 503954 8
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... If GeorgeOrwell had died in 1939 before the outbreak of war (something perfectly possible, for in the previous year he suffered a bad haemorrhage and spent nearly six months in a sanatorium), he would be recorded in ...
7 October 1982
... The word ‘biography’ can create as many different expectations as the word ‘Orwell’. It can mean a memorial or a panegyric, it can mean a hatchet job, it can simply mean a good read (Wyndham Lewis once said that good biographies are like novels); or it can mean something ...
22 January 1981
George OrwellA Life 
by Bernard Crick.
Secker, 473 pp., £10, November 1980, 9780436114502
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Class, Culture and Social Change: A New View of the 1930s 
edited by Frank Gloversmith.
Harvester, 285 pp., £20, July 1980, 0 85527 938 9
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Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties 
edited by Jon Clark, Margot Heinemann, David Margolies and Carole Snee.
Lawrence and Wishart, 279 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 0 85315 419 8
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... Professor Crick’s subject is important and his research has evidently been diligent. We now know a lot more about Orwell than we did, and the increment of knowledge is not always trivial. Why, then, is it impossible to commend this book with warmth? For two main reasons: first, in a work of such length the prevalence ...

Whitehall Farces

Patrick Parrinder

8 October 1992
Now you know 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 9780670845545
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... In its attitude towards Dickens,’ GeorgeOrwell wrote, ‘the English public has always been a little like the elephant which feels a blow with a walking-stick as a delightful tickling ... One knows without needing to be told that lawyers delight ...

Going on the air

Philip French

2 May 1985
OrwellThe War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... escorting guests through the labyrinthine corridors of Broadcasting House past doors bearing inscrutably coded designations have cheerfully informed them that they’re in the building that inspired GeorgeOrwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The BBC is in fact properly proud of the famous writers who have worked there, and (in the past at least) possibly prouder of the novels, poems and plays they wrote ...

I say, damn it, where are the beds?

David Trotter: Orwell’s Nose and Prose

16 February 2017
Orwell’s Nose: A Pathological Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Reaktion, 256 pp., £15, August 2016, 978 1 78023 648 3
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Or OrwellWriting and Democratic Socialism 
by Alex Woloch.
Harvard, 378 pp., £35.95, January 2016, 978 0 674 28248 3
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... Of course​ he shot the fucking elephant.’ The sharpness of Sonia Orwell’s defence of the authenticity of the event on which her late husband based one of his most famous essays tells its own story. Without the experiences enjoyed or endured by Eric Blair, Etonian ...

‘No Bullshit’ Bullshit

Stefan Collini: Christopher Hitchens, Englishman

23 January 2003
Orwell's Victory 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Allen Lane, 150 pp., £9.99, June 2002, 9780713995848
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... mess on the carpet. Hitchens loves mess on the carpet. What Hitchens hasn’t previously attempted at any length is the positive tribute, the admiring portrait. It has long been clear, however, that GeorgeOrwell is something of a hero of his, as of most political journalists with claims to be both essayists and tellers of unpopular truths, and now, spurred by the appearance four years ago of Peter ...

Last Stand

Stephen Smith

8 May 1997
Solidarity on the Water front: The Liver pool Lock-Out of 1995-96 
by Michael Lavalette and Jane Kennedy.
Liver Press, 147 pp., £5.95, December 1996, 1 871201 06 3
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... wide orbits of Liverpool by car before fetching up at a family establishment in darkest Lancashire. I was curious to see how far accommodation for the footloose investigator had come on since GeorgeOrwell laid his hat at the noisome tripe shop and lodging-house where we encounter him at the beginning of The Road to Wigan Pier. Orwell was sharing with three others and had to sleep with his legs doubled ...

Homage to Spain

Douglas Johnson

22 May 1986
Homage to Catalonia 
by George Orwell.
Secker, 260 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 436 35028 9
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The Spanish Civil War 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 1115 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 241 89450 6
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The Triumph of Democracy in Spain 
by Paul Preston.
Methuen, 274 pp., £14.95, April 1986, 0 416 36350 4
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... of and feelings about this war should appear this year – the fiftieth anniversary of the war’s beginning. Homage to Catalonia is published as one of the first volumes of the complete works of GeorgeOrwell, for which the editor, Dr Peter Davison, uses Orwell’s original manuscripts, letters and proofs to establish the text that Orwell would have wished to have. In the case of this work, among ...

Opportunities

David Gilmour

1 June 1989
Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 357 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 7011 3459 3
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... There is a strikingly good article on Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet in which Hitchens discusses the ambiguities and contradictions of British rule in India. And there is an excellent defence of GeorgeOrwell which is somewhat reminiscent of Orwell’s own essay in defence of Kipling. Hitchens lines up the most formidable detractors (Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Conor Cruise O’Brien), quotes ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell

19 June 2003
George​ Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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OrwellThe Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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OrwellLife and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... his hatred of benighted autocratic states led him in the eyes of many to betray his left-wing views altogether. Such, no doubt, is how Christopher Hitchens will be remembered. The resemblances to GeorgeOrwell, on whom Hitchens has written so admiringly,* are obvious enough, though so are some key differences. Orwell was a kind of literary proletarian who lived in dire straits for most of his life ...

What can happen when you make contact in a MOO

John Sutherland: Crime and passion in a virtual world

29 July 1999
My Tiny Life: Crime and Punishment in a Virtual World 
by Donald Dibbell.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £16.99, January 1999, 1 84115 058 4
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... Thoughtcrime, as conceived by GeorgeOrwell, was one of the black flowers of Thirties totalitarianism. By criminalising thought the dictatorial state planned to erase individuality – even an individuality as insignificant as Winston Smith ...

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