- Hardcover: 624 pages
- Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (August 20, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871404109
- ISBN-13: 978-0871404107
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #763,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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George Orwell Diaries 1st Edition
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Orwell was at home in his diaries, writing most for himself, not for posterity. He trusted these pages, whose primary subject was the world, not George Orwell, and certainly not the inner George Orwell. Writing, for Orwell, was an illness you didn't conquer in private any more than you did on the printed page. — Jack Shafer
“Starred review. [A] lushly annotated edition of Orwell’s diaries from 1931 to 1949…. Born Eric Arthur Blair, Orwell, as these diaries reveal, lived a varied and even dichotomized life. …Editor Davison (English/De Montfort Univ.) supplies necessary contextual information and footnotes generously, but stays in the shadows and allows us to truly enjoy Orwell’s impressive chronicles.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Read with care, George Orwell’s diaries, from the years 1931 to 1949, can greatly enrich our understanding of how Orwell transmuted the raw material of everyday experience into some of his best-known novels and polemics. They furnish us with a more intimate picture of a man who, committed to the struggles of the mechanized and “modern” world, was also drawn by the rhythms of the wild, the rural, and the remote.”
- Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair
“One cannot help but be struck by the degree to which [Orwell] became, in Henry James’s words, one of those upon whom nothing was lost. By declining to lie, even as far as possible to himself, and by his determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, he showed how much can be accomplished by an individual who unites the qualities of intellectual honesty and moral courage.”
- Christopher Hitchens, from the Introduction of Diaries
“Among the vivifying things about his Diaries, issued now in one volume for the first time, is how they restore some first-person flesh and blood to what can seem like his disembodied head. What’s more, they show Orwell to be nearly Jeffersonian in his combined passion for politics and for the natural world, not merely for fishing but also for the enlightened and fervent cultivation of vegetables, fruit trees, animals and flowers… These diaries show him with his hands covered in fresh dirt, hard at work, in sync with the seasons, curious about everything under the sun, tending to what he needed and grateful for beauty as well as sustenance. They present a man in full.”
- Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Never before published in the United States, this wonderfully annotated collection of George Orwell’s diaries from 1931 to 1949 is sure to fascinate any fan of his work. From his down and out years to his stint working at the BBC during WWII (“something halfway between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum…. Our radio strategy is even more hopeless than our military strategy.”), the reader can catch a glimpse of this essential English writer’s internal life, and watch the ideas that became Animal Farm and 1984 bloom, percolate, and grow.”
- Emily Temple, Flavorpill
“Reading the Diaries end-to-end in a single volume offers us a different take on Orwell: less as a thinker, or a figure of political conscience, than as a complex and dimensional human being.”
- David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
“Orwell’s achievement grew out of seemingly modest virtues: decency; good, hard sense; and clean, clear prose. Yet they added up to something monumental… The diaries as a whole do exactly what you would expect: They confirm his greatness.”
- Craig Seligman, Bloomberg.com
“Orwell lived in London during most of World War II, including during the Battle of Britain. Entries during this period have the author’s defining features on display, including unimpeachable intellectual honesty, concern about the degradation of truth, physical courage, and unpretentious writing… All the traits that made Orwell so great can be found in the Diaries.”
- Jordan Michael Smith, Christian Science Monitor
“A window into the way Orwell's mind worked.”
- Barry Gewen, New York Times Book Review, Front page
“Reading these diaries leaves one, as always when encountering the words of George Orwell, with a confirmed admiration for the sterling qualities that have made him a benchmark for integrity and a lodestar for writers and thinkers across the ideological spectrum. Embedded in the DNA of his writing is that austere, penetrating analytical ability, averse to cant or any form of hypocrisy and pretension, unsparing of everything and everyone―especially himself. He simply can't help being that way: Once pen is put to paper, or fingers to typewriter, those qualities appear, second nature to his writing, even the most casual.”
- Martin Rubin, San Francisco Chronicle
“...[T]he diaries as a whole do exactly what you would expect: They confirm his greatness.”
- Craig Seligman, Newsday
“We should celebrate the publication of Orwell’s diaries. The publication of personal texts by other authors might smack of cheap opportunism, purely a money-making ploy. But I think publishers got it right with Orwell.”
- Scott Beauchamp, Book Riot
“How appropriate that the political moralist George Orwell (1903-50) should be published by a company called Liveright! Orwell, who despised every form of careerism, instinctively gravitated to the kind of quiet rural existence that we associate with ancient Greek philosophers or Anglican clergyman of the 18th century. Certainly, these diaries reveal that the author of Animal Farm was happiest cultivating his garden, observing the weather, enjoying the beauty of spring flowers and watching over the health of his hens.”
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“It is a blessing, then, to now have the opportunity to read his Diaries, edited meticulously by Peter Davison, who as the editor of the twenty volumes of Orwell's Complete Works has an unequaled knowledge of the material… They throw a revealing light on Orwell the thinker, and offer welcome stimulus to revisit the books and essays in which that mind left its lasting imprint.”
- Brooke Allen, Barnes and Noble Review
“Edited with exemplary skill and grace by Peter Davison.”
- William H. Gass, Harper's
Top customer reviews
The book begins with a fine introduction by the late Christopher Hitchens: “By declining to lie, even as far as possible to himself, and by his determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, he showed how much can be accomplished by an individual who unites the qualities of intellectual honesty and moral courage.”
You’ll find some of the most perceptive examinations on poverty in 1930s England as Orwell goes undercover as a day laborer working in the fields and orchards picking hops and fruit. His writing talent is well served by his acute observation as well as an open nonjudgemental attitude toward everyone and everything he comes across.
“As to our living accommodation, the best quarters on the farm, ironically enough, were disused stables. Most of us sleep in round tin huts about 10 feed across, with no glass in the windows and all kinds of holes to let in the wind and rain.”
His love for animals, nature and farming is abundantly noted in his journals. There are large sections musing on daily gardening, hens laying eggs, goat’s milk…. One of his goat’s is named Muriel, just like in Animal Farm. He loved to fish. He also gives us a daily weather report. This can be a bit tedious, but it gives us a excellent sense of a man rooted in real things such as the earth or, e.g., the impact of a storm.
The Morocco diaries capture the flavor, politics, animals, and people at that time.“…there is an obvious great difference in the water supply between peasant’s plots and the plantations of Europeans and wealthy Arabs. The difficulty of water makes an immense amount of work.”
My favorite section was his World War II diaries; they show Orwell the patriot and political activist. He is eager to help in any way he can, and he served in the Home Guard and eventually as a BBC propaganda correspondent in England’s efforts in India.
He shows the psychological effects of constant air raids as well as the physical damage in or around London. And the resilience of the English who go about their daily routine despite the bombardments. These are the early days of the war, and we see the confusion and fluid nature of attitudes and the concern that England would be overrun and could possibly lose the war. He saw through all hypocrites, particularly the rich or “patriots.”
“[I]t struck me how easy it is to bamboozle an uneducated audience if you have prepared beforehand a set of repartees with which to evade awkward questions.”
He criticized and praised Churchill and called other politicians imbeciles and explained why their current strategy would likely lose the war. “C said he thought Churchhill, though a good man up to a point, was incapable of doing the necessary thing and turning this into a revolutionary war, and for that reason shielded Chamberlain and Co.”
Like his novels and essays, his diaries would have fit nicely into current American polltics in 2013. Here is a comment he made about the upper classes: “Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99 percent of the population exist.”
It is disappointing that we do not find much on his personal relations to anyone close to him, or little about his literary life.
He is brave until the end, but it is painful to know he is near death while finishing 1984 at the young age of forty-six. A voice like his does not come along very often. This is an important piece of the Orwell oeuvre.
a. The rule of totalitarianism-eg.. "Animal Farm" is a classic fable of life in a communist society.
b. The destructive power of propaganda as a tool in the arsenal of governments who wish to retain power and control over society.
c. A hatred of the stultified British class system.
d. Orwell believed in speaking truth to power. His is a strong voice for democracy and freedom being exercised by the individual.
Orwell was born in India in 19-3 but grew up in Great Britain. He came from the upper middle class world of Eton where he matriculated. Blair served in the Burmese and Indian Civil Service where he saw British colonialism close up. He later became a journalist and a member of the Communist Party. Orwell was wounded while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. During World War II he served in the Home Guard and broadcast to Asia on the BBC. He wrote many books and countless articles. He died at 47 from T.B. Since his death his books have become popular nd his is now a famous literary name.
The eleven diaries contained in this volume run from 1931 until near the author's death. They cover such topics as:
a. His time picking hops along with tramps in Great Depression era England.
b. His journalistic reports on coal miners and their lives in the West and North of England.
c. The most interesting diary deals with World War II. Orwell was a eyewitness to the London bombing and worked in the BBC offices in London. He comments on the political and military scene with clarity and insight.
d. Many of the diaries deal with Orwell's life on his Wallington farm. We learn about barnyard animals; how many eggs were laid by the hens; wildlife in the region and the growth of garden vegetables and flowers. Orwell was a countryman by nature who loved to hunt, fish and spend time in the outdoors.
Orwell is know best of "Animal Farm" and "1984" but his expose of mining life "The Road t Wigan Pier"; his experience in the Spanish Civil War "Homage to Catalonia" and many of his lesser novels and essays are well worth reading.
The book is introduced by the late Christopher Hitchens an notable biographer of Orwel and edited by Peter Davison. Davison has edited the twenty volume Complete Works of th author.
While I gave the book five stars many of its pages are somewhat dull unless you enjoy the minutia of farm life. This book is a literary event which deserves to be celebrated!
Most recent customer reviews
he journaled some of the things he did!