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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 and pieces into an archive. The typescript used in the printing of Nineteen Eighty-Four is in the Orwell Archive at University College London ...

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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... acute suicidal impulses. The sorry creature described here is, alas, a book reviewer, as seen by George Orwell 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 a Book ...

The Unhappy Vicar

Samuel Hynes, 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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... George Orwell 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 soldiers in Spain, and then turned those hard adventures into fables of imperialism, poverty and war ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard Crick, 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 scholarly, academic, definitive: a dull attempt to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – as far as that is possible ...

Orwellspeak

Julian Symons, 9 November 1989

The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St GeorgeOrwell 
by John Rodden.
Oxford, 478 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 19 503954 8
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... If George Orwell 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 literary histories of the period as an interesting maverick who wrote some not very successful novels, a lively account of a few hard weeks in Paris, a quirky book about the miners that was somehow combined with an attack on sandalled vegetarian socialists, and another about the Spanish Civil War that some reviewers praised but nobody read ...

The Essential Orwell

Frank Kermode, 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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... 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 of carelessly written pages is a strong disincentive to ...

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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... I was curious to see how far accommodation for the footloose investigator had come on since George Orwell 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 up to ...

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,’ George Orwell 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 in Sergeant Buzfuz and that Little Dorrit is a favourite in the Home Office ...

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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... coded designations have cheerfully informed them that they’re in the building that inspired George Orwell’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 in their spare time than the programmes they produced ...

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, colonial enforcer, schoolteacher, down-and-out, grocer, infantryman, there would have been no George Orwell, writer ...

‘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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... any length is the positive tribute, the admiring portrait. It has long been clear, however, that George Orwell 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 Davison’s marvellously thorough complete edition of ...

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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... beginning. Homage to Catalonia is published as one of the first volumes of the complete works of George Orwell, 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 ...

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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... the ambiguities and contradictions of British rule in India. And there is an excellent defence of George Orwell 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 them fairly and at ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: The art of protest, 8 February 2007

... it comes to matching actions and words.) In the leaflet Wallinger uses quotations from Blair and George Orwell to call the government to order over freedom of expression, but this is no more an argued case than Haw’s banners are. Nor is it the stuff of which martyrs are made. Wallinger is not Daumier, liable to have his incendiary images ...

Plumping

J.I.M. Stewart, 19 March 1981

Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 246 pp., £8.95, March 1981, 0 19 502767 1
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... stuffy and comatose instead of collapsing beautifully like France.’ Connolly’s fellow Etonian, George Orwell, in a sense plumps for England. Mr Fussell, by assembling in two long columns 56 disobliging adjectives applied by Orwell to aspects of British life from 1919 to 1939, seems to me to oversimplify a complex ...

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