The Last Man in Europe: A Novel Hardcover – November 14, 2017
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- Scott Simon, NPR's Weekend Edition
“In his highly compelling, deeply researched novel The Last Man in Europe―the title Orwell almost gave Nineteen Eighty Four ―Dennis Glover tells the dramatic story of an author, in the twilight of his life, composing the greatest of his literary works.”
- The National Book Review
“Brings to life the final years of Eric Blair―better known by his pen name George Orwell―and the environment and global conditions that sparked the creation of his classic novel 1984 . . . This engrossing, timely, and finely detailed first novel about the creation of a 20th-century literary masterpiece is a must-read for lovers of history, literature, or politics.”
- Library Journal, Starred Review
“This imaginative work is an unexpected treat for fans of George Orwell. The Barcelona scenes are especially memorable, cinematic in their brightness. The more you know of Orwell, the more you will enjoy it. This, finally, is the biography―even though a novel―that Orwell deserves.”
- Thomas E. Ricks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the New York Times bestseller Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom
“Enthralling . . . a sprawling but compact recreation of Orwell’s last years and his writing of the book, with impressionistic glimpses of the events which shaped the novel . . . Glover convincingly enters Orwell’s often-prickly psyche, documenting the heartbreaks and betrayals which created his unique and prophetic world view . . . The Last Man in Europe (the title itself is significant, as it was the working title for Nineteen Eighty-Four) is a unique and thought-provoking work, intellectually challenging and emotionally rich. It will likely compel readers back to Nineteen Eighty-Four ― never a bad thing ― and force them to take a look at the world around themselves, to consider warnings unheeded.”
- The Toronto Star
“Dennis Glover's The Last Man in Europe fictionalizes the creation of Orwell's seminal work, depicting the small moments throughout the writer's life that eventually culminated in the book's genesis and completion. Orwell in many ways worked himself to death writing 1984, and Glover's fabulous book shows why.”
- Shelf Awareness
“Glover’s novel vividly recreates Orwell’s short life, emphasizing the personal, social and political influences that would later give rise to the futuristic vision Orwell depicted in 1984. . . . The two sides of Orwell’s life―the writer and the political activist, which are nearly impossible to separate―are examined in detail and would appeal to readers interested in the inner workings of a writer’s mind or in how politics may shape a person’s character, regardless of their vocation. . . . highly recommended.”
- Historical Novels Review
“Glover's ultimately successful book is . . . imagined reality, it is a character study. It’s a very moving one and it is handled with skill, without a dead note. We see him as Comstock, or Bowling and eventually Winston Smith. Quite soon we no longer see the device at all, absorbed, and are instead following him through a bombed-out Islington, a ruined Germany, an inhospitable Jura, we’re with him at the wartime BBC and seeing spies everywhere as if reading a rather fast moving drama . . . A vivid picture is built up, an entertaining story of how an artist’s experiences and evolving ideas make it into the work we read . . . It is a novel and we all know how it ends. I felt after finishing, I’d seen Orwell from another angle. It is touching and sad but those things hold their own enjoyment in literature.”
- Jason Crimp, The Orwell Society
“Rivetingly told, not only of Orwell's insight and courage, but of his torments, his loves, his gut-wrenching struggles. Read this book to better know and understand an essential figure of the 20th century whose writing and example still speak to us with urgency.”
- Don Watson, author of The Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump
“A quite astonishing achievement. This is a novel about George Orwell and 1984, written uncannily in the style Orwell would have used if he had decided to write a novel about his own life. The result is a fascinating, compelling and, in the end, a deeply moving work, a wonderfully accurate and entirely unsentimental tribute to the political writer who grasped with greatest penetration the meaning of the European catastrophes of the first half of the twentieth century. Glover's Orwell is fully imagined and precisely understood. With The Last Man in Europe, a major new literary talent has been revealed.”
- Robert Manne, author of The Mind of the Islamic State
About the Author
- Publisher : The Overlook Press (November 14, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1468315919
- ISBN-13 : 978-1468315912
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,108,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Initially I was very impressed by 'The Last Man in Europe' however, as I worked through the book, I started to find the novelisation technique intrusive. How did Dennis Glover know how Orwell was thinking or feeling?
Having read D.J. Taylor's 'Orwell' one thing that became clear was the extent to which Orwell constructed his own myth, and there are differences between that and the real person. Despite living in the twentieth century Orwell is a remarkably opaque individual. D.J. Taylor did a marvellous job of sifting through the evidence, such as it is, to allow the reader to make up her or his own mind. 'Orwell' is a nuanced and balanced assessment of a frustrating and complex man.
'The Last Man in Europe' allows no room for D.J. Taylor's nuance, something Dennis Glover acknowledges at the end of his book. He explains how he had to imagine the scenes and make best guess approximations of what Orwell was experiencing. The book is obviously well researched however the reader is often left wondering where factual events end and fictional interpretation begin.
'The Last Man in Europe' covers George Orwell's life from 1936 through to his death in 1950. During this period, Orwell wrote Keep the Aspidistra Flying, The Road to Wigan Pier, Homage to Catalonia, Coming Up for Air, Animal Farm, and 1984. The final two made him famous. Orwell’s determination to finish 1984 was probably what shortened his life.
The extent to which you enjoy it will probably depend upon your willingness to go along with Dennis Glover’s novelisation technique. It was not wholly successful for me however I would say, with confidence, anyone with an interest in Orwell will find plenty to appreciate in it.
Mr Glover has succeeded in producing an extremely well-researched, credible and engaging account of Orwell's last decade or so that has an authentic feel for time and place. We follow the writer through his experiences on the trail of prewar English socialism, his time at the front in Catalonia, his struggle to stay afloat during the grim days of postwar austerity and finally his retreat to Jura as he struggled to finish writing Nineteen Eighty-Four before his tuberculosis finally killed him.
The research and finely-observed detail in this book is lightly worn and this makes for a riveting and hugely informative read. Whether you're interested in Orwell and /or his work or if you're just interested in the period, I thoroughly recommend this book.
I have never read a biography of George Orwell, but this novel has left me keen to find out more about his life, as well as explore those books I have not yet read. “1984,” has long been one of my favourite novels and I enjoyed reading about the background and influences on the author; from his time in the Spanish Civil War, his work in the Second World War, where so much of his time was spent writing a round-up of the news to be broadcast to the Indian sub-continent, his time on Jura, his illness and his personal life.
Despite all the obstacles he faced, it was obvious that Orwell was driven to write, “1984,” and that the struggle he had completing the novel makes you marvel that it was ever published. “The Last Man in Europe,” was the working title and Dennis Glover offers up little snippets that you may recognise from Orwell’s books, or that really make you think (Sonia Orwell not visiting him in hospital after his will was finalised shocked me to the core…). If you are an expert on George Orwell you may not get much from this, but, as someone whose knowledge is very basic, it will hopefully encourage you to explore Orwell’s work, and life, in greater depth.
It is clear from the notes at the end that Glover has studied Orwell’s life and writings in much depth, and with insight and compassion. He says it is fictional, but the way he writes it makes you feel you are inside Orwell’s head. The poetic license makes it better than any autobiography could ever be.
George Orwell suffered for his art, he died way too young, but his legacy remains and is enhanced by this book. Moreover, it is an extraordinary account of what it was like to live through the tumultuous and challenging times of the pre-war build-up, the dreariness and uncertainty of the war-years in England and the emergence of a new world in a post-ware era that was anything but cheerful.
Throughout this book I felt I was there, right next to one of the greatest writers of our time. A literary treat.