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Essays (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) Hardcover – October 15, 2002
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“[Orwell] evolved, in his seemingly offhand way, the clearest and most compelling English prose style this century…But of course he was more than just a great writer. We need him today because [of] his passion for the truth.” –The Sunday Times (London)
“Had Orwell lived to a full term, he might well have gone on to become the greatest modern literary critic in the language. But he lived more than long enough to make writing about politics a branch of the humanities, setting a standard of civilized response to the intractably complex texture of life.” –The New Yorker
“The real reason we read Orwell is because his own fault-line, his fundamental schism, his hybridity, left him exceptionally sensitive to the fissure–which is everywhere apparent–between what ought to be the case and what actually is the case. He says the unsayable.” –Financial Times
“Orwell was the conscience of his generation.” –V. S. Pritchett
From the Inside Flap
Though best known as the author of" Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four," George Orwell left an even more lastingly significant achievement in his voluminous essays, which dealt with all the great social, political, and literary questions of the day and exemplified an incisive prose style that is still universally admired. Included among the more than 240 essays in this volume are Orwell's famous discussion of pacifism, "My Country Right or Left," his scathingly complicated views on the dirty work of imperialism in "Shooting an Elephant," and his very firm opinion on how to make "A Nice Cup of Tea." In his essays, Orwell elevated political writing to the level of art, and his motivating ideas--his desire for social justice, his belief in universal freedom and equality, and his concern for truth in language--are as enduringly relevant now, a hundred years after his birth, as ever.
Top Customer Reviews
One's only real regret is that there isn't an index, not even of titles. Fishing through the table of contents for old favorites is cumbersome, and the failure of the publishers to provide running heads on the pages means you can't really just flip through to find what you're looking for.
Nevertheless, this is a long overdue and wonderfully produced collection of one of our most readable, thoughtful, and unpretentious writers. If you're a fan of Orwell, no other collection can possibly do--and if you're not, this is the perfect way to get to know him. For me, at least, this will provide bedside reading for a long time to come.
The collection, as a collection, is not as good. I do not want it thought that I am saying this is not a worthwhile book: it is. Simply by being an easily obtainable hardcover collection of Orwell's short and medium-length prose, it does a valuable service. Before this book came out, the only way to get a comprehensive collection of Orwell's essays in hardcover was to find a set of the four-volume "Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters" on the second-hand market, and the price demanded for that grows more exorbitant every year.
However, there are three major problems with the compilation. One is only slightly irritating, but the other two genuinely harm the utility of the book.
1. No page headings- This has been mentioned by other reviewers. The page headers say only "Essays", where in most other collections they would make mention of the essay you are currently reading. (This is true even of other Everyman's Library titles.Read more ›
It's an insult to a writer of Orwell's stature to have put together such an extensive volume (1,424 pages!) of his best work so amaturishly. There's no index, no notes section and no specification of which essay you're on at the head of the page. The table of contents is practially useless, as most of the essays are numbered.
Physically, the book is beautiful: a matte cover, with a great portrait of Orwell, cream-wove paper, sewn binding and a sewn in bookmark. But it is in no way user friendly. If you're looking to dive into Orwell's essays and journalism check out the David R. Godine editions.
Orwell's range and talent are ably displayed here, from his literary essays, his writings on politics, autobiographical writings (including the harrowing "Such, Such Were the Joys" about his youth spent in a third-rate boarding school), his musings on popular culture ("Boy's Weeklies" and "The Art of Donald McGill" are classics of the genre), and his lighter works (Orwell writes, for example, on how to make the perfect cup of [strong] tea and what his version of the perfect public house would be).
Reading this book should also prove a useful antidote for those who have been convinced by the usupation of Orwell by certain right-wing writers that Orwell really was a conservative of some sort. While Orwell deeply loved traditional values and firmly opposed Soviet communism, his hatred of imperialism, capitalism, fascism, the class system and mindless wealth are marked and consistent throughout and we can be assured that he would have written harshly of Margaret Thatcher had he lived long enough to see that era.
John Carey contributes a useful introduction; the book includes a good bibliography and a very helpful timeline of Orwell's life correlated to the literary and historical happenings of the era.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This the broadest sampling of Orwell's essays available. The Everyman's hardback edition is beautifully bound, including a sewn-in bookmark. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mark C.
What can I say about Orwell that has not been said already. This is a book of essays that can be picked up and read anytime and enjoyed.Published 9 months ago by Montague Burton
The points of criticism others have pointed out regarding the editorial layout of the essays are grating, but really, this is comparable to the complete Essais of Montaigne from... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jeremy Brunger
To understand how we get here, nowadays. He is accurate is his analysis and a great writer.Published 22 months ago by ELIANA SOUZA FURTADO
He's brilliant and one of great essayists of all time. Huge anthology.Published on September 28, 2014 by Michael
Orwell's writing can drag a bit (if I ever read the words "moth-eaten" or "blowsy" again, it will be too soon) but these non-fiction pieces represent a pleasing... Read morePublished on July 25, 2013 by Teh Arbitrageur
Of course you'll find in these pages George Orwell's most important essays. His account of a hanging in Burma, his literary essays on Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling, and one... Read morePublished on October 31, 2011 by Vincent Poirier
At less than thirty bucks, this book is an almost must-buy for any student of modern English, or political theory. Read morePublished on May 4, 2011 by Jeff D. Thompson
I read and loved 1984 (Signet Classics) (Mass Market Paperback) and Animal Farm: Centennial Edition in high school, but I knew almost nothing more about their author until I found... Read morePublished on October 11, 2010 by Kurt Conner