Feature

Orwell Centenary: The Biographies

Issue section: 

George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. John Newsinger reviews recent biographies of Orwell.

In 1946 George Orwell was to acknowledge the importance of his Spanish experiences. Spain, he wrote, had 'turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism.' What is remarkable, of course, is that an old Etonian, very much a product of the imperial middle class should have ended up fighting in Spain with the POUM militia and then have gone on to become the most important socialist writer and novelist of 20th century Britain.

Orwell Centenary: The Cold War Controversy

Issue section: 
Author: 

George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Paul Foot examines why much of the left rejects Orwell.

As the Private Eye columnist Glenda Slagg might ask, 'George Orwell? Arncha sick of him?' As the hundredth anniversary of his birth - 25 June 1903 - comes and goes the literary media appear to have taken leave of their senses. Three more full-scale biographies have been produced to enlarge an already enormous pile.

Orwell Centenary: No Pasaran

Issue section: 
Author: 

George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Andy Durgan describes the impact of revolutionary Spain on Orwell.

'I had dropped into the only community of any size in western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites.' So wrote George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia on the six months he was to spend in revolutionary Spain.

Witness to revolution

Orwell Centenary: George Orwell, 1903-1950

Issue section: 

George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. The facts of Orwell's life.

25 June 1903
Eric Arthur Blair born in the Indian village of Motihari, son of a minor official in the opium department of the Indian civil service.

1907
The Blairs return to England.

1911
Eric sent to St Cyprian's preparatory school in Sussex.

1917
Wins a scholarship to Eton.

1921-22
Joins the Indian imperial police. Stationed in Burma from January 1922.

Orwell Centenary: From 2003 to 1984

Issue section: 
Author: 

George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Andrew Stone assesses the relevance of Orwell's most famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Whenever a politician says one thing but means another, we think of 'Newspeak'. Whenever we need shorthand for the intrusive power of the state, the media or big business - such as the RMT's dispute with PPP contractor Metronet over a CCTV camera at Baker Street - the spectre of Big Brother is raised. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is ensconced in our political (and - in the case of the facile gameshow Big Brother - not so political) vocabulary, synonymous with rampant authoritarianism and oppression.

Lions and Jackals

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Lindsey German celebrates the re-release of 'The Leopard', the classic film about the conflict between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie during the creation of Italy.

Luchino Visconti's 'The Leopard' is a great Marxist film. It tells us about a crucial point in Italian history through the story of one man, the prince of Salina - head of an aristocratic Sicilian dynasty. In 1860, when the film opens, Italy as a unified state only exists in the imagination. The country we now know is comprised of dozens of states, with no unified politics or civil society or even language.

Haven in a Heartless World

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The third volume of Tony Cliff's selected writings is now available and contains this extract on the family, first published in 1984.

The family does not serve as a safe haven insulated from the world of work. Work intrudes into every aspect of the worker's life. Lasch writes [in 'Haven in a Heartless World']: 'The same historical developments that have made it necessary to set up private life - the family in particular - as a refuge from the cruel world of politics and work, an emotional sanctuary, have invaded this sanctuary and subjected it to outside control. A retreat into "privatism" no longer serves to shore up values elsewhere threatened with extinction.'

Revolt on the Nile

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Anger against Mubarak's regime is growing.

An Egyptian socialist recalls his exchange with an officer of the mukhabarat (secret police) as riot squads attacked a huge anti-war protest in Cairo in March: '"We have to stop you," shouted the officer. "If we don't stop you now, you won't stop at all".'

Proud to be Awkward

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

There is a golden opportunity for the trade union movement to revitalise itself, and rebuilding grassroots networks is the key.

On the day of the 2 million strong Stop the War Coalition demonstration, one union general secretary went around his delegation recording the names of the young activists who were marching. These, he claims, are the future of the union - the next generation of reps. There is no doubting the impact the anti-war movement has had on the trade union movement. Millions of trade unionists were inspired and involved in this mass movement. Inspired by the school students' strikes, at least 360 workplaces took part in unofficial action on the day war broke out.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Feature