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A Great Collection of Essays,
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This review is from: All Art Is Propaganda (Paperback)
The title of this collection of Orwell's essays is taken from the initial entry discussing Charles Dickens and it is a well chosen title. The inability of artists to be completely apolitical is the theme that holds this anthology together as Orwell examines topics ranging from the art of Salvador Dali, to Swift's Gulliver's Travels to Graham Greene. The fact that Orwell left England to risk in life in the Spanish Civil War fighting for the republican forces only to memorialize his experiences in Homage to Catalonia, puts him in a unique position to examine the intersection of art and politics.
The acerbic wit and ranging intelligence of Orwell is on full display in this pages. In addition, his rabid fear and hate of totalitarianism that has made him a touchstone for intellectuals both left and right is also apparent in his lucid analysis of Gulliver's travels and the supposed "utopia" of the Houyhnhnms. Some of these essays are familiar, such as Politics and the English Language but others are more obscure, such as Benefits of the Clergy: Some Notes on Salavdor Dali which was censored for obscenity in 1946. My particular favorite is Confessions of a Book Reviewer, which lacks the strong political overtones of his other essays but gives a vivid image into the overlooked aspect of Orwell's life as a workaday journalist and book reviewer.
Despite not living to see the Cold War or the rise of religious fanaticism his thoughts and words still matter. For those who are unfamiliar with Orwell outside 1984 or Animal Farm, All Art is Propaganda provides a great starting point into the writings of one of the great political writers of the modern era.