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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orwell's Essays

It’s a shame that “Politics and the English Language” is the only Orwell essay many readers know. The essays are the essential Orwell, where his voice is at its strongest and the working of his mind at its clearest. There are too many great ones to put between the covers of a book—which is why a new, two-volume edition of Orwell’s essays, edited by yours truly, has just been published by Harcourt: “Facing Unpleasant Facts,” which gathers the narrative essays, such as “Shooting an Elephant,” and “All Art Is Propaganda,” which compiles the critical essays, like the studies of Dickens and Dalí. I made sure to include lesser-known gems alongside the more famous essays: you’ll find Orwell’s wartime diary from 1940, his dismal recollection of working in a bookshop, his review of Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” his brilliant takedown of Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” and a truly obscure piece called “Dear Doktor Goebbels—Your British Friends Are Feeding Fine!”

On November 5th, you’ll need to clear your head of a great deal of accumulated nonsense. I would suggest a long, deep, surprising drink of Orwell.

The Cure for the Campaign - George Packer

Sounds like good advice.

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