George Orwell was first and foremost an essayist, producing throughout his life an extraordinary array of short nonfiction that reflected--and illuminated--the fraught times in which he lived. "As soon as he began to write something," comments George Packer in his foreword, "it was as natural for Orwell to propose, generalize, qualify, argue, judge--in short, to think--as it was for Yeats to versify or Dickens to invent."
Facing Unpleasant Facts charts Orwell's development as a master of the narrative-essay form and unites such classics as "Shooting an Elephant" with lesser-known journalism and passages from his wartime diary. Whether detailing the horrors of Orwell's boyhood in an English boarding school or bringing to life the sights, sounds, and smells of the Spanish Civil War, these essays weave together the personal and the political in an unmistakable style that is at once plainspoken and brilliantly complex.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
GEORGE ORWELL (19031950) served with the Imperial Police in Burma, fought with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, and was a member of the Home Guard and a writer for the BBC during World War II. He is the author of many works of nonfiction and fiction.
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.
Read an Excerpt
Table of Contents
contents Foreword by George Packer • vii Introduction by George Packer • xv The Spike • 1 Clink • 11 A Hanging • 23 Shooting an Elephant • 29 Bookshop Memories • 38 Marrakech • 44 My Country Right or Left • 52 War-time Diary • 59 England Your England • 109 Dear Doktor Goebbels—Your British Friends Are Feeding Fine! • 139 Looking Back on the Spanish War • 143 As I Please, 1 • 167 As I Please, 2 • 172 As I Please, 3 • 175 As I Please, 16 • 180 Revenge Is Sour • 184 The Case for the Open Fire • 189 The Sporting Spirit • 193 In Defence of English Cooking • 198 A Nice Cup of Tea • 201 The Moon Under Water • 205 In Front of Your Nose • 209 Some Thoughts on the Common Toad • 214 A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray • 219 Why I Write • 224 How the Poor Die • 232 Such, Such Were the Joys • 245 Notes • 296
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
On Imperialism and WarThis is the second in the series of re-publishing of George Orwell essays edited by George Packer. The focus of this collection is to highlight Orwell's more journalistic side. The essays in this collection are less persuasive and much more narrative and impressionist.Orwell's famous "Shooting an Elephant" essay on British imperialism in Burma is included here. It is no wonder the essay has become a standard in most undergraduate courses on British empire, Orwell exposes the contradictions of empire, that "when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys."Probably the most interesting essays are the diary entries by Orwell during and after the Battle of Britain which are written with unflinching lucidity. We've all read about Dunkirk, Coventry, etc... but its always fascinating to read what real people felt at the time, to read about their reactions in the moment, rather than historical texts or even old newspapers. In between descriptions, Orwell even enlightens us with the odd insight such as his observation that "War is simply a reversal of civilised life."A few of the essays at the end of the book, post-WWII are interesting such as his essay on racial prejudice titled "As I Please." But the final series of essays "Such, Such were the Joys" are no more than ramblings about the banalities of private school, specifically St. Cyprians where Orwell went to school.Overall, I would recommend this book if just for the 100 or so pages from Orwell's diary during the war. The rest is average by Orwell's standards, which is certainly better than most.