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Orwell: The Life

Orwell: The Life Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Prize for Biography

"D. J. Taylor has written not only the best recent biography of George Orwell . . . but also one of the cleverest studies of the relationship of that life to the written word."

-The Washington Post Book World

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold more than forty million copies, and "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language. D. J. Taylor's magisterial assessment cuts through George Orwell's iconic status to reveal a bitter critic who concealed a profound totalitarian streak and whose progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the myths he built around himself.

Drawing on previously unseen material, Orwell is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. This biography is as vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

D. J. Taylor is the author of four novels, including English Settlement, which won the Grinzane Cavour Prize; Trespass; and The Comedy Man. He is also well-known as a critic and reviewer and is the author of A Vain Conceit: British Fiction in the 1980s; After the War: The Novel and England since 1945; and the acclaimed biography, Thackeray.

Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Prize for Biography

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold more than forty million copies. The adjective "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language, while Orwell himself has himself become one of the most powerful and symbolic figures in Western political thought.

In this moving, masterly study, Taylor cuts through George Orwell's iconic status to reveal a man uncertain about his writerly gifts and far less doctrinaire than previously thought. We meet a social critic who concealed a pronounced authoritarian streak, a supporter of classless society whose first thought for his adopted son was to enroll him at Eton. Orwell's journey through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s, we find, was characterized by the myths he built around himself. Whether as reluctant servant of the Raj in 1920s Burma, mock down-and-outer in Paris and London, or courageous Spanish Civil War soldier (who when asked what he was fighting for, replied, "Common decency"), the circumstances of his life are sharply at odds with the image Orwell carefully and effectively staged-managed. As his friend Anthony Powell maintained, George Orwell was half in love with the thing he was rebelling against.

Drawing on a large body of previously unseen papers and numerous interviews with friends and others who knew him in his years of obscurity, Orwell: The Life is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint: a man who combined modesty and a life of chilling detachment with warmth and gentleness, and who battled through illness to produce two 20th-century masterpieces. This is the biography scholars and students of Orwell have been waiting foras vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

"[Taylor's] book will probably emerge as the standard biography."The New York Times Book Review

"The best recent biography of George Orwell [and] one of the cleverest studies of the relationship of [his] life to the written word . . . Taylor considers Orwell in his capacity as schoolboy, colonial policeman, socialist militiaman, and polymathic freelance writer, as well as in the role of amateur tramp, inept seducer, and impoverished writer. But he never loses his hold on the connecting thread, which was Orwell's conviction that a post-religious world would need some solid morality with which to combat the realization that the heavens are empty . . . Taylor's awareness of the English literary tradition is of the greatest use to him here (he is the author of a celebrated biography of Thackeray), and he understands where Orwell 'fits.' He also shares his subject's facility for quotation and cross-reference. But better still is his instinct for the telling detail."Christopher Hitchens, The Washington Post Book World

"An engaging, highly readable biography that should appeal to both neophytes and those already familiar with Orwell's important work . . . Taylor deeply understands Orwell's work, and uses this knowledge as a reference point for examining Orwell's life."Chuck Leddy, San Francisco Chronicle

"Taylor wins the biographical contest . . . He is an accomplished literary critic and he illuminates Orwell's work in the context of his life elegantly and expertly."The Guardian

"If any writer of the past century deserves another look in the twenty-first century, it is George Orwell. This new study is that kind of revelation."Richmond Times-Dispatch

"This brilliant biography, read compulsively, details the life of an old Etonian who acquired mythic status."

f0Boston Herald

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Prize for Biography

"D. J. Taylor has written not only the best recent biography of George Orwell . . . but also one of the cleverest studies of the relationship of that life to the written word."

-The Washington Post Book World

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold more than forty million copies, and "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language. D. J. Taylor's magisterial assessment cuts through George Orwell's iconic status to reveal a bitter critic who concealed a profound totalitarian streak and whose progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the myths he built around himself.

Drawing on previously unseen material, Orwell is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. This biography is as vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Prize for Biography

"D. J. Taylor has written not only the best recent biography of George Orwell . . . but also one of the cleverest studies of the relationship of that life to the written word."

-The Washington Post Book World

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold more than forty million copies, and "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language. D. J. Taylor's magisterial assessment cuts through George Orwell's iconic status to reveal a bitter critic who concealed a profound totalitarian streak and whose progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the myths he built around himself.

Drawing on previously unseen material, Orwell is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. This biography is as vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

About the Author

D. J. Taylor's acclaimed biography Thackeray was selected as a "book of the year" by Victoria Glendinning and A. N. Wilson. Taylor lives in Norwich, England.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805076936
Subtitle:
The Life
Publisher:
Holt Paperbacks
Author:
Taylor, D. J.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - British
Subject:
Journalists
Subject:
Authors, English
Subject:
Editors, Journalists, Publishers
Subject:
General Biography
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20041001
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.00 x 5.69 x 1.19 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Orwell: The Life
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 496 pages Owl Books (NY) - English 9780805076936 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Prize for Biography

"D. J. Taylor has written not only the best recent biography of George Orwell . . . but also one of the cleverest studies of the relationship of that life to the written word."

-The Washington Post Book World

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold more than forty million copies, and "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language. D. J. Taylor's magisterial assessment cuts through George Orwell's iconic status to reveal a bitter critic who concealed a profound totalitarian streak and whose progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the myths he built around himself.

Drawing on previously unseen material, Orwell is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. This biography is as vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

"Synopsis" by ,
Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Prize for Biography

"D. J. Taylor has written not only the best recent biography of George Orwell . . . but also one of the cleverest studies of the relationship of that life to the written word."

-The Washington Post Book World

In the last fifty years, Animal Farm and 1984 have sold more than forty million copies, and "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature, and language. D. J. Taylor's magisterial assessment cuts through George Orwell's iconic status to reveal a bitter critic who concealed a profound totalitarian streak and whose progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by the myths he built around himself.

Drawing on previously unseen material, Orwell is a strikingly human portrait of the writer too often embalmed as a secular saint. This biography is as vibrant, powerful, and resonant as its extraordinary subject.

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