Julian Symons

  • The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St George’ Orwell by John Rodden
    Oxford, 478 pp, £22.50, October 1989, ISBN 0 19 503954 8

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. Six hundred of the 1500 print-run for Homage to Catalonia were unsold when Orwell died in January 1950.

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