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Coming Up for Air

Coming Up for Air, Left Book Club

orwell novel george british

a novel by George Orwell, published in 1939. Coming Up for Air is Orwell's most convincing novel of contemporary British life, although like several books written by members of Orwell's generation on the brink of the Second World War, it is also charged with memories of an Edwardian childhood. The poignancy of its flights of nostalgia, which circle round the rural landscapes of the Thames valley, is sharpened by premonitions of the coming war, and in particular of aerial bombardment. The reveries of its protagonist, George Bowling, are constantly interrupted by authorial regrets for a vanishing community: ‘Is it gone for ever? I'm not certain. But I tell you it was a good world to live in. I belong to it. So do you.’ Bowling is an overweight insurance salesman trapped in a life of suburban uniformity, and married to a wife whose only motivations are negative and financial: ‘We can't afford it’; ‘I don't know where the money's to come from’. The book was published by Gollancz, despite Orwell's inclusion of a chapter satirizing Gollancz's Left Book Club. Orwell's criticisms of political faddism, of urbanization, and of technological progress are Blimpish on occasion, but the novel successfully catches a mood of reassessment, during a phase when the British were asking themselves what it was they thought they would be fighting for.

Common Reader, The - (1925), The Common Reader: Second Series, Times Literary Supplement, The Common Reader, Jane Eyre [next] [back] Comics - The Beano, The Dandy, Superman, Dick Tracy, Batman

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