George Orwell will always be remembered for writing 1984 and Animal Farm, but if that’s all you’ve read by him let my suggest you pick up his travelogue of essays Down and Out in Paris and London. It was his first book, published when he was 30.
I suggest that to offer that Orwell was more than just his two most famous novels.? He was a superb writer of the highest order.? One need to look no further than his intimate diaries to ascertain his brilliance.? Lucky for us they are available to read.
What impression of Orwell will emerge? From his domestic diaries (which start on 9th August), it may be a largely unknown Orwell, whose great curiosity is focused on plants, animals, woodwork, and ? above all ? how many eggs his chickens have laid. From his political diaries (from 7th September), it may be the Orwell whose political observations and critical thinking have enthralled and inspired generations since his death in 1950. Whether writing about the Spanish Civil War or sloe gin, geraniums or Germany, Orwell?s perceptive eye and rebellion against the ?gramophone mind? he so despised are obvious.
Orwell wrote of what he saw in Dickens: ?He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry ? in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.?
What will you see in the Orwell diaries?
That’s a great question.? I like that the diaries, only a few entries in, are diverse.? Some are no longer than a single line, while others read like an ethereal haiku.? This is going to be a wonderful project to follow.