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All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays
Synopses & Reviews
As a critic, George Orwell cast a wide net. Equally at home discussing Charles Dickens and Charlie Chaplin, he moved back and forth across the porous borders between essay and journalism, high art and low. A frequent commentator on literature, language, film, and drama throughout his career, Orwell turned increasingly to the critical essay in the 1940s, when his most important experiences were behind him and some of his most incisive writing lay ahead.
All Art Is Propaganda follows Orwell as he demonstrates in piece after piece how intent analysis of a work or body of work gives rise to trenchant aesthetic and philosophical commentary. With masterpieces such as "Politics and the English Language" and "Rudyard Kipling" and gems such as "Good Bad Books," here is an unrivaled education in, as George Packer puts it, "how to be interesting, line after line."
"Before he was a renowned novelist, George Orwell was a masterful essayist. Spanning the 1940s, this companion to Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays showcases Orwell in an often unexpected cavalcade of observations on diverse subjects — in the literary field alone as varied as T. S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, Henry Miller, Graham Greene and Kipling. But since this is Orwell, the book takes on a range of subjects with gusto: power and bully worship and the deleterious influence of Catholicism on literature. Orwell's withering observations on professional academic criticism ('Politics and the English Language') are tempered by his sly 'Confessions of a Book Reviewer' ('constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever') and 'Good Bad Books' (the 'supreme example' being Uncle Tom's Cabin). Not to be overlooked is a freewheeling take on the naughty postcards of Donald McGill. Overall, this collection highlights the work of a writer who always put his money where his mouth was, reiterating frequently the importance of clarity of expression in enabling independent thought." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Orwell demonstrates in piece after piece how intent analysis of a work or body of work gives rise to trenchant aesthetic and philosophical commentary.
About the Author
GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950) was born in India and served with the Imperial Police in Burma before joining the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was the author of six novels as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.
GEORGE PACKER is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq and other works. He lives in Brooklyn.
Keith Gessen was born in Russia and educated at Harvard. He is a founding editor of n+1 and has written about literature and culture for Dissent, The Nation, The New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books. He is the author of the novel All the Sad Young Literary Men.
Table of Contents
Foreword by George Packer ix
Introduction by Keith Gessen xvii
Charles Dickens 1
Boys Weeklies 63
Inside the Whale 95
Drama Reviews: The Tempest, The Peaceful Inn 141
Film Review: The Great Dictator 144
Wells, Hitler and the World State 148
The Art of Donald McGill 156
No, Not One 169
Rudyard Kipling 177
T. S. Eliot 194
Can Socialists Be Happy? 202
Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali 210
Propaganda and Demotic Speech 223
Raffles and Miss Blandish 232
Good Bad Books 248
The Prevention of Literature 253
Politics and the English Language 270
Confessions of a Book Reviewer 287
Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gullivers Travels 292
Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool 316
Writers and Leviathan 337
Review of The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene 346
Reflections on Gandhi 352
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