George Orwell

Hope lies in the proles

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As well as being one of the most significant literary figures on the left in the 20th century George Orwell was also a broadcaster, a columnist, a poet, an essayist, a war correspondent — and a Republican fighter in the Spanish Civil War.

His two most influential books, Homage to Catalonia (based on his experience fighting Franco’s army in Spain) and Nineteen Eighty Four (a nightmare vision of life in a totalitarian society), continue to be relevant today 70 years after they were first published.

Orwell and the struggle for socialism

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John Newsinger, author of a new book on George Orwell’s politics, looks at how his stance as an independent socialist led him to great radicalism and terrible betrayal.

On 8 October 1945 the BBC broadcast a talk on Jack London by George Orwell. It was part of the Corporation’s educational talks for members of the armed forces. Here Orwell praised London and in particular his novel, The Iron Heel, for his understanding of the nature of the capitalist class. London, he told his listeners, recognised that the capitalists would never give up their wealth and power without a fight not a fight on the floor of the House of Commons, but on the streets.

Orwell Centenary: Culture, Class and Communism

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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. Gareth Jenkins assesses Orwell's writing on culture.

Room 101, Big Brother, doublethink - all these have passed into the language to become instantly recognisable, though in ways that might have surprised Orwell. They are testimony to the power of his writing and the way it has become part of everyday culture.

Orwell Centenary: The Biographies

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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

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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

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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: From 2003 to 1984

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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.

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