Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Encyclopedia of Literature: John Rhode to Jack [Morris] Rosenthal Biography

Road to Wigan Pier, The

Vogue, Daily Worker, œuvre

orwell class book

a polemical work by George Orwell, published in 1937. This powerful indictment of grim living conditions in the mining communities of the north of England established Orwell's credentials as a left-wing commentator but also aroused suspicion and hostility in the communist press. The reception of his text did much to confirm an inclination towards political independence that had grown so strong by 1946 that even a reporter in Vogue could acknowledge it: ‘Orwell is a defender of freedom, even though most of the time he violently disagrees with the people beside whom he is fighting.’ The complaints made in the Daily Worker were directed at Orwell's middle-class sensibility. Despite the fact that his detractors wilfully distorted what he had actually said, there is something in this. A fastidious recoil from the physical realities of working-class culture can be found throughout his œuvre and suggests that one explanation for his insistent need to go on tramping expeditions was a recurrent attempt to overcome his distaste. But the book also draws on feelings of sincere indignation over the dilapidation and overcrowding of the slums, the meagre diet, the injustice of the means test, the devastating effect of unemployment, and the appalling rate of deaths and disabilities among miners. Parts of the book are delivered in the neutral tones appropriate to the documentation of representative cases, and there are disquisitions on class consciousness and on the relationship between socialism and mechanization that are presented as dispassionate inquiries; but, as always with Orwell, the most telling moments have a sharply personal flavour.

Road to Xanadu, The [next]

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