George Orwell: Essays Background

George Orwell: Essays Background

"Everything line of serious work I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democraticsocialism, as I understand it."

So spoke George Orwell, in one of his better known essays, Why I Write (1946) which describes his own particular road towards becoming a writer - one of the twentieth century’s most prolific, as it turned out. Although his novels Animal Farm and 1984 account for over half of his book sales worldwide, he nonetheless penned over four hundred essays, as well as articles, political editorials, and of course, fictional novellas and poems.

Orwell began his writing career by contributing to magazines, including fifteen London Letters for the Partisan Review, an American quarterly journal, during March and April 1941.

During Orwell's lifetime, two anthologies of his work were compiled, including a book of his essays. This changed after his death, when over a dozen anthologies appeared, including a very ambitious attempt to collate all of his essays and letters together in one weighty tome, and a twenty-volume collection of his entire body of work published in the late 1980s.

The best-known collection of his essays is called Inside The Whale, the most familiar of the essays also giving the collection its title. A second book of essays, Dickens Dali and Others was published in America in 1958. The majority of Orwell's essays were overtly political, without innuendo or metaphor, but explaining why he believed strongly in socialism, and was opposed vehemently to totalitarianism. His best known essays include Shooting An Elephant, England Your England, Such, Such Were The Joys, and Inside The Whale.

Like much of Orwell's work, his essays form the core curriculum in the English education system which has led many to voice concern over the politicizing of children's education and the obvious bias in ideological teaching. However, many cite undeniably Conservative aspects of his ideology as well; his biographer, Christopher Hitchens, states that Orwell was inconsistent, but was never afraid to stop learning, and testing, his own intelligence.

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