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My Country Right or Left 1940-1943: The Collected Essays Journalism & Letters of George Orwell (Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters George Orwell) Paperback – October 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Series: Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters George Orwell (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 477 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567921345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567921342
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Though his life was brief (1903-1950), Orwell was extremely prolific. In addition to penning two of the last century's greatest novels, he wrote reams of essays, journalistic pieces, and letters. Covering a 30-year period, this extensive four-volume set, originally published in 1968, collects the best of his nonfiction. Each volume is divided by year and intermixes his correspondence with news stories and discourses on numerous subjects. There is far more to Orwell than Animal Farm and 1984, and this beautiful collection reveals what a true intellect he was. Though probably more for academics, the books are priced reasonably enough for public library consideration.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"* "It is an astonishing tribute to Orwell's gifts as a natural, unaffected writer that, although the historical events he is unfolding are all too bitterly familiar, the reader turns the page as though he did not know what was going to happen. Here, then, is a social, literary, and political history... which, while being intensely personal never forgets its allegiance to objective truth." -THE ECONOMIST"

More About the Author

GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950) was born in India and served with the Imperial Police in Burma before joining the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was the author of six novels as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Judd Parkin on January 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Though remembered today primarily for ANIMAL FARM and 1984, George Orwell was also one of the most brilliant essayists of the 20th Century. This volume (the second of four recently re-released in paperback) shows the range and depth of his journalistic writing. Orwell was a Socialist and avowed leftist, but he never felt compelled to toe the party line. What makes his journalistic writings so lively and thought-provoking is that he constantly challenges the reader to look at entrenched ideas from a fresh perspective. This volume contains his justly famous essay on England, "The Lion and the Unicorn", and pieces on such wide-ranging subjects as Hitler's "Mein Kampf", Tolstoy and Shakespeare, and a spirited appreciation of Rudyard Kipling (politically and artistically not the sort of writer one would expect Orwell to defend). Interspersed with the essays is a selection of Orwell's letters from this period, as well as his fascinating War-time Diary. You may not always agree with Orwell's opinions, but you will never be bored. Orwell was a master stylist, but what really strikes the reader is how startlingly relevant the essays are, sixty years after they were written. An absolutely first-rate collection by a major writer who is long-overdue for reassessment.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Virgil on September 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
...Country Right or Left is part of a four volume set of essays commissioned by Orwell's wife Sonia. Whatever the criticisms that have been made of her stewardship of Orwell's legacy, these four volumes contain much of the best of Orwell's essays, letters and diary excerpts. This volume covers the early war years and much of the writing is shaded by that war.
This is Orwell at his finest, on one hand a confirmed socialist dedicated to fighting the right whether the Tory party or fascism; one the other hand an anti-Stalinist and critic of the left and always an anti-totalitarian.
Contained within "My Country Right or Left" is some of Orwell's best writing. In "Pacifism and the War", a notorious piece at the time, he accuses pacifists of aiding the fascist cause. "The Art of Donald McGill" is an essay about, of all things, postcards that are popular among the middle and lower classes. The postcards themselves, Orwell argues, say much about England's political and social attitudes. It's actually a perceptive piece of pop art and social commentary. Among my favorites is the essay concerning Mark Twain (Mark Twain- Licensed Jester). Orwell, a great admirer of Twain's, is critical of him for not being forceful enough in his social criticism. He accusation is that Twain pulls his punches far too often. It's a great piece of criticism and is Orwell at his finest.
What holds a large amount of this Volume together are the letters to the Partisan Review, a New York publication that contracted with Orwell to write commentary on England during this early war period. The issues vary from English politics, reflections on the clothing worn by the masses, attitudes towards democracy and so on. All well written, never dull and very often wrong in their predictions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first volume of essays, articles and letters by Blair/Orwell, which I read thanks to Jim Egolf's recent review here. The man contradicts himself quite a bit, but I do not regret the time spent. Who wants to get bored by people that one always agrees with?
The main theme of the book, due to the time of the sample, is England in war with totalitarianism/fascism/nazism. Though Orwell was in his heart a leftist, he had enough insight from own experience to understand the nature of totalitarianism, he was a dedicated anti-Stalinist, and he staid away from party politics.
And yet: his long essay 'The Lion and the Unicorn', one of the core texts of this book, gives a political vision, that puzzles me. He displays a surprising naivete about the strength of economic planning in socialism. Of course, we have the benefit of hindsight, we know that a central planning bureaucracy can be the right approach for a short term effort, like for a war, but will be hopelessly lost in inefficiencies in 'normal' times. Orwell was deeply convinced that state capitalism or socialism was the future, there would be no return after the war.
I have decided to ignore his political recipes, but to enjoy his social analyses: England is a rich man's paradise, but the ruling class is too stupid to run the country.
One of his main contributions to our understanding of the confict of the time: his juxtaposition of the ideology of hedonism (which nearly led the West into the abyss) against the ideology of social sacrifice, which helped the Nazis to succeed, luckily only temporarily.
I wonder if he fully understood the real antagonism of Hitler to the West or if he got deceived by the temporary diversion of the pact with Stalin.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James E. Egolf VINE VOICE on November 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an anthology of Orwell's essays, literary criticism, letters to friends,and political criticism. Those who read this book can read some interesting letters that Orwell wrote to the editors of THE PARTISAN REVIEW on the fortunes of W.W. II involving the British. The book concludes with Orwell's diary of the war. While George Orwell (1903-1950)was a self admitted "leftist," he was not an ideologue. Orwell showed that he was a well read individual and knew very well that political labels conceal the desire for political power regardless of political titles and party affilations.

Orwell was a master of literary criticism. Two examples are his review and comments on Hitler's MEIN KAMPF and Tolstoy's denounciation of Shakespear. Orwell commented that an English review of Mein Kampf favaored the German dictator. Orwell correctly predicted such praise would soon evaporate which it did. Orwell informed readers that praise for Hitler was not unusal. One must note that Churchill complimented Hitler in Churchill's book titled GREAT CONTEMPORARIES. Churchill also complimented Hitler in a speech to Parliament in November, 1938. Here Orwell shows not only his ability as a literary critic, but he informs younger readers that the political disapproval word,fascism, had a different connotation. Many Europeans including the British middle and upper classes had serious concerns of Big Communism with its record of mass murder and concentration camp brutality.

Orwell showed himself again as a literary critic when Orwell critisized Tolstoy for the latter's condemnation of William Shakespear. Orwell correctly refuted Tolstoy on a couple of issues. First, Tolstoy read Shakespear in translation which may have tainted his understanding of Shakespear.
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