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The Life

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Orwell has become one of the most potent and symbolic figures in western political thought. Even the adjective 'Orwellian' is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature and language yet, despite this iconic status, the man who was born Eric Blair in 1903 remains an enigma.

Drawing on a mass of previously unseen material, D J Taylor offers a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. Here is a man who, for all his outward unworldliness, effectively stage-managed his own life; who combined chilling detachment with warmth and gentleness, disillusionment with hope; who battled through illness to produce two of the greatest masterpieces of the twentieth century.

Moving and revealing, Taylor's Orwell is the biography we have all been waiting for, as vibrant, powerful and resonant as its extraordinary hero.

From Publishers Weekly

11 August 2003 – George Orwell (1903–1950), né Eric Blair, seemed only a marginal Depression-era writer about disillusion and hopelessness among ordinary working types until the Spanish Civil War, when in 1937 he was shot through the neck and nearly killed, furnishing him with the lens to see totalitarianism and betrayal as, possibly, the future human condition. In his now classic Homage to Catalonia, then a commercial failure, he wrote of papers reporting facts that were lies, patriotism that was propaganda, loyalty that was treachery, heroism that was cowardice. The results, in a bleak career abbreviated at 46 by unremitting tuberculosis, emerged in the dystopian fable Animal Farm and in the mean urban wasteland of 1984, in which history is rewritten daily, and obedience is the only recourse for the brainwashed powerless. Taylor, author of an earlier biography of Thackeray, limns Orwell's life graphically, and relates his early fiction and journalism persuasively to the iconic postwar novels, describing his writing as "an endless scroll constantly refined and brought up to date, in which early entries reemerge to assume an expected resonance." Tendencies to cliché disappear as Taylor warms up to his theme of an Etonian displaced in a remorseless world. A few brief chapters seem merely stuck in, but Orwell's essentially lonely and downstart life, and his triumphs almost too late to matter, make for compelling reading. 16 pages of b&w illus. not seen by PW.
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  • £9.49
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biography
  • Published: 30 November 2010
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Print Length: 496 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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