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Orwell Diaries by George Orwell
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Orwell Diaries

by George Orwell

Other authors: Peter Davison (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Collection of Orwell's diaries, taken down over a period of almost 20 years: 1931-1950.

The first two substantial sections are written in the 1930s. The first describes his time spent as a migrant farm laborer, and the second describes his visits to industrial towns which would eventually contribute to [b:The Road to Wigan Pier|30553|The Road to Wigan Pier|George Orwell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328063005s/30553.jpg|1034643]. In both of these, we see scrupulous attention to detail.

The third and longest portion of the diaries deals with the Second World War, covering the months before the war up to before the Battle of Stalingrad. This coincided with Orwell's own volunteering in the Home Guard, a sort of popular militia, and the BBC, writing propaganda broadcasts. Here, he demonstrates his lucid perceptions of propaganda, language and politics. Most of this would later find its way into 1984. He offers dicta on what to trust and what not to trust. He predicts that the word 'blitz' would become a verb. He notes how ordinary citizens tend to ignore political events and go about their lives in the Blitz - an act of foolhardiness or bravery. He also notes how political ideology can make one selectively blind and deaf to certain atrocities, and outraged over others. He picks apart both British and enemy propaganda. All of this is Orwell doing what he is most famous for doing.

Between all of these long trenchant segments, however, are 'domestic diaries' - Orwell's daily or near-daily observations about his local life. These revolve around his gardening, his livestock, or occasionally local wildlife or his crafts projects. Lots of entries about how many eggs his hens lay. Occasionally there is a break in between these, like a trip to Morocco before his voyage to Catalonia.

It's easy enough to discard the whole lot of them as tedious. Perhaps they are. But they do reveal a more human side to Orwell as well. He is far from being a drum-beating mindless nationalist, but he is a sort of patriot. He loved nature, his farm and neighborhood, his friends. He dreamed of owning a house in the Hebrides. Considering the dark political worlds he lived in and imagined, this sort of natural wonder and honest handiwork is necessary to keep him sane.

Recommended to devoted Orwell fans. There is no shortage of those, thankfully. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Generally, diarists are advised not to record day-to-day politics, as these have little to do with one's personal history, and can be checked in other sources. Unfortunately, Orwell's diaries largely consist of such annotations of the world news. The personal entries seem to mainly concentrate on the weather report for the day + planting in his garden. All really rather boring. Most of the diaries are written in notational style. Hard to read, and very dry. ( )
  edwinbcn | May 29, 2012 |
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Orwell was a populist of sorts, and like any populist he had his dark side. His occasional rants against homosexuals and feminists are anachronisms today. His caustic remark that “a humanitarian is always a hypocrite” sounds a note too sour. But he was a populist with an abiding commitment to openness, which meant, as he conceded, that sometimes one had to fight against the beliefs one was raised with. His larger point, the one he always held on to, was that morality had to begin from the sense of who one actually was, if only to avoid the abstractions that killed. Orwell knew who he was and he told us again and again. He was a friend of the common man who also had an appreciation of James Joyce. He was a socialist with little hope for real change unless decency could somehow prevail. And he was a man who enjoyed gardening and counting his eggs.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Barry Gwen (Aug 31, 2012)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Orwellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davison, PeterEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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George Orwell was an inveterate keeper of diaries. Eleven diaries are presented here covering the period 1931-1949 from his early years as a writer up to his last literary notebook.

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