… the wonderful new statue of George Orwell at the BBC.

In lieu of a pilgrimage to it, she will read for the hundredth time, laughing again all the way through, “Down and Out in Paris and London.”


It seems to be an open question whether that very weight — the strain and tedium and approximation of everyday existence — was a hindrance to Orwell or an assistance. He himself seems to have thought that the exigencies of poverty, ill health, and overwork were degrading him from being the serious writer he might have been and had reduced him to the status of a drudge and pamphleteer. Reading through these meticulous and occasionally laborious jottings, however, one cannot help but be struck by the degree to which he became, in Henry James’s words, one of those upon whom nothing was lost. By declining to lie, even as far as possible to himself, and by his determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, he showed how much can be accomplished by an individual who unites the qualities of intellectual honesty and moral courage. And, permanently tempted though he was by cynicism and despair, Orwell also believed in the latent possession of these faculties by those we sometimes have the nerve to call “ordinary people.” Here, then, is some of the unpromising bedrock — hardscrabble soil in Scotland, gritty coal mines in Yorkshire, desert landscapes in Africa, soul-less slums and bureaucratic offices — combined with the richer soil and loam of ever renewing nature, and that tiny, irreducible core of the human personality that somehow manages to put up a resistance to deceit and coercion. Out of the endless attrition between them can come such hope as we may reasonably claim to possess.

Christopher Hitchens, Introduction to Orwell’s diaries.

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2 Responses to “Color UD Excited About…”

  1. dmf Says:

    Andrew Marr discusses the work of Joseph Conrad with his biographer Maya Jasanoff. Conrad wrote about the underbelly of colonialism, terrorism, immigration and isolation and Jasanoff looks at the turn of the twentieth century through the lens of his life and work. While Conrad’s Nostromo reflected the changing world order with the emerging dominance of the US and global capitalism, the FT columnist Gideon Rachman looks at the decline of the West amidst the growing power of the East, as well as reflecting on Britain’s imperial amnesia. A young George Orwell was also part of the British colonial system in its slow death throes in Burma and the academic Robert Colls explores how these experiences shaped his later work. Ishion Hutchinson has been called a post-colonial poet and his latest collection is haunted by Jamaica’s fractured past.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    dmf: Many thanks for that link. UD

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