A Clergymans Daughter Analysis Essay

Critical Analysis And Evaluation Of 1984, By George Orwell

George Orwell

1984

The New American Library

Copyright 1961

George Orwell

George Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, was born in Bengal, India, in 1903. When he was eight years old, as it was customary, his mother brought him back to England to be educated. He was sent to a boarding school on the south coast, a school whose students were sons of the upper class. He was allowed in with lower tuition and not being from a wealthy background, he was subject to snobbery of the others at the school. In 1917 he went to Eton on a scholarship and he enjoyed himself, making friends and reading many books. Orwell graduated in 1921 and instead of going on to a university; he joined the Civil Service and went to Burma as a sergeant in the Indian Imperial Police. He served as a policeman in Burma from 1922 until he took leave in 1927 and resigned his post.

Orwell now had time to think and he decided to live among working-class people in Paris and among the tramps in England for more than a year. During these years he worked as a schoolteacher and got married. Both he and his wife kept a village pub and a village general store. All of these experiences led up to the basis for his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, which was an autobiographical work he published in 1933. This was his first book and he used the name George Orwell. He explained later that he took the last name from an English river near where he lived and the first name as being typically English. The latter part of his work was written primarily about different things and places that he had experienced. For example, he wrote, Homage to Catalonia, from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War and A Clergyman's Daughter, makes use of his teaching experiences. Orwell died at the young age of forty-seven from neglected lung ailments. In his death he left behind a growing reputation for greatness and the conviction that modern man was inadequate to cope with the demands of his history.

It is not apparent that Orwell used any sources in his writing of 1984. If he had, they were not included in my copy of 1984.

The Author's Views

I feel that George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning after years of brooding on the twin menaces of Nazism and Stalinism. He wanted to lay out the basis of what he thought the world could become. By writing this anti-utopian story, I feel he hoped to frighten us so that we might be on our guard. If a certain city knew of a tornado on the rise, they could be prepared. But, if that tornado hit that same town and they were not expecting it, the potential damage could be far greater. Orwell was warning us.

The position the author takes on his story seems to be a hopeful one. He hopes that Winston will end up defeating Oceania's mad system of government and find true love with Julia but he is not writing a love story. He planted his seed...

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Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell's third novel published in 1936, is a savagely satirical portrait of the literary life. Orwell chronicles the struggles of Gordon Comstock, who gives up a successful job in an advertising - "the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket" - to become an unsuccessful poet, taking refuge by day in a failing bookshop as he descends into genteel poverty.

Having vowed to "make it his especial purpose not to 'succeed'" Comstock rails against how "The Money God" dominates all aspects of life. "Don't you see that a man's whole personality is bound up with his income? His personality is his income. How can you be attractive to a girl when you've got no money?", he asks his somewhat disaffected girlfriend Rosemary. The aspidistra of the book's title comes from the pot plants to be found on every window sill which, for Comstock, symbolise all that is wrong with the "mingy, lower-class decency" he is desperate to escape.

D.J. Taylor, in his recently published biography, writes that "of all the fiction that Orwell produced in the 1930s, Keep the Aspidistra Flying is the one most closely associated with him as a writer". Orwell was himself a struggling writer working part-time in a Hampstead bookshop. His journeys around England and beyond - chronicled in Down and Out in London and Paris - do often resemble Comstock's circumstances and attitude. But the facts of Orwell's own life were rather different - considerably more sociable and quickly becoming more successful - to Comstock's.

The novel is perhaps a better guide to Orwell's intellectual development than it is autobiographical. It is the novel in which Orwell is most directly influenced by one of his heroes George Gissing, the late Victorian novelist whose New Grub Street remains the seminal description of literary failure. In his later essay on Gissing, Orwell describes the quintessential flavour of Gissing's world - "the grime, the stupidity, the ugliness, the sex-starvation, the furtive debauchery, the vulgarity, the bad manners, the censoriousness" - which sums up the world Orwell sought to capture and to criticise in Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

Comstock can also be seen as something of a predecessor of the Angry Young Men of the 1950s - though Comstock was, if anything, angrier still. Christopher Hitchens' recent book Orwell's Victory offers an illuminating comparison of of the many parallels between Orwell's novel and Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim, which did much to define postwar British fiction, although the two books are markedly different in tone and it is Orwell's comic essay 'Confessions of a Book Reviewer' which resembles the comic spirit of the Amis novel.

The publication of Keep the Aspidistra Flying was not a particularly happy one for Orwell. He had numerous run-ins with his publishers, who insisted on changes to the book late in the process because of the fear that many of the real advertising slogans which it contained were too risky to print. Orwell therefore had to produce new, fictitious slogans which would take up exactly the same amount of space because of the inflexibility of lead typesetting - and complained that the book had been "ruined". Peter Davison's Complete Orwell in 1998 finally reversed these changes which meant, for example, restoring the genuine 'New Hope for the Ruptured' instead of Orwell's substitution 'The Truth about Bad Legs'.

The book received mixed reviews. Cyril Connolly complained that the book's obsession with money prevented it being considered a work of art. The Daily Mail praised the novel's vigour but was unconvinced by its demolition of middle England: "among the aspidistra, Mr Orwell seems to lose the plot". The misfortunes did not end there. Many of the first print run of 3,000 were lost in a bombing raid in the early years of world war two.

Whether Orwell would have been impressed with the film adaptation, released in 1999, is another moot point. Much of the grimness of the novel has been replaced by a warm period gloss. Richard E Grant's Comstock is a considerably more comical figure - particularly well-suited to the disastrous Soho binge when some money does come in - while Helena Bonham-Carter's Rosemary has become considerably more sexually confident. This is definitely a case where anybody employing the ruse of relying on the film to take part in our book group discussion may be found out rather quickly.

Orwell refused to allow either Keep the Aspidistra Flying or his first novel, the considerably weaker A Clergyman's Daughter, to be reprinted in his lifetime. His dislike of his early novels arose from his incredibly strong sense that he would always be a literary failure, which enabled him to empathise so strongly with his creations like Comstock.

Orwell's six novels make just a small part of his nearly two million published words. Many critics, including biographer Bernard Crick, see Orwell's claim to literary greatness resting much more upon his talents as an essayist - on everything from Politics and the English Language to the perfect cup of tea - than on his novels. Yet while Orwell's first four novels are not nearly so completely realised as their more famous successors Animal Farm and 1984, they offer many important insights into the development of the most important English novelist of ideas of the last century.

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