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Keep The Aspidistra Flying (Harvest Book) Paperback – March 19, 1969

4.4 out of 5 stars 849 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

London, 1936. Gordon Comstock has declared war on the money god; and Gordon is losing the war. Nearly 30 and "rather moth-eaten already," a poet whose one small book of verse has fallen "flatter than any pancake," Gordon has given up a "good" job and gone to work in a bookshop at half his former salary. Always broke, but too proud to accept charity, he rarely sees his few friends and cannot get the virginal Rosemary to bed because (or so he believes), "If you have no money ... women won't love you." On the windowsill of Gordon's shabby rooming-house room is a sickly but unkillable aspidistra--a plant he abhors as the banner of the sort of "mingy, lower-middle-class decency" he is fleeing in his downward flight. In Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell has created a darkly compassionate satire to which anyone who has ever been oppressed by the lack of brass, or by the need to make it, will all too easily relate. He etches the ugly insanity of what Gordon calls "the money-world" in unflinching detail, but the satire has a second edge, too, and Gordon himself is scarcely heroic. In the course of his misadventures, we become grindingly aware that his radical solution to the problem of the money-world is no solution at all--that in his desperate reaction against a monstrous system, he has become something of a monster himself. Orwell keeps both of his edges sharp to the very end--a "happy" ending that poses tough questions about just how happy it really is. That the book itself is not sour, but constantly fresh and frequently funny, is the result of Orwell's steady, unsentimental attention to the telling detail; his dry, quiet humor; his fascination with both the follies and the excellences of his characters; and his courageous refusal to embrace the comforts of any easy answer. --Daniel Hintzsche

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, including 1984 and Animal Farm, as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Mariner Books (March 19, 1969)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0156468999
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0156468992
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 790L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.1 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.31 x 0.71 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 849 ratings

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George Orwell is one of England's most famous writers and social commentators. Among his works are the classic political satire Animal Farm and the dystopian nightmare vision Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was also a prolific essayist, and it is for these works that he was perhaps best known during his lifetime. They include Why I Write and Politics and the English Language. His writing is at once insightful, poignant and entertaining, and continues to be read widely all over the world.

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there.

At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.

It was around this time that Orwell's unique political allegory Animal Farm (1945) was published. The novel is recognised as a classic of modern political satire and is simultaneously an engaging story and convincing allegory. It was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which finally brought him world-wide fame. Nineteen Eighty-Four's ominous depiction of a repressive, totalitarian regime shocked contemporary readers, but ensures that the book remains perhaps the preeminent dystopian novel of modern literature.

Orwell's fiercely moral writing has consistently struck a chord with each passing generation. The intense honesty and insight of his essays and non-fiction made Orwell one of the foremost social commentators of his age. Added to this, his ability to construct elaborately imaginative fictional worlds, which he imbued with this acute sense of morality, has undoubtedly assured his contemporary and future relevance.

George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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John M
2.0 out of 5 stars A very unlikeable and ridiculous central character creates a depressing novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 17, 2020
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Antenna
4.0 out of 5 stars Look back in anger 1930s style
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 7, 2018
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Jack
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic commentary on 1930s England!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 29, 2019
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shoestopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining while providing a fascinating picture of life in the 1930d
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on June 20, 2021
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Kid Ferrous 🔴🟡🟢
4.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Orwell novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 20, 2021
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