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George Orwell is regarded as the greatest political writer in English of the twentieth century. The massive critical literature on Orwell has not only become extremely specialized, and therefore somewhat inaccessible to the nonscholar, but it has also attributed to and even created misconceptions about the man, the writer and his literary legacy. For these reasons, an overview of Orwell's writing and influence is an indispensable resource. Accordingly, this Companion serves as both an introduction to Orwell's work and furnishes numerous innovative interpretations and fresh critical perspectives on it. Throughout the Companion, Orwell's work is also placed within the context of political and social climate of the time. His response to the Depression, British imperialism, Stalinism, World War II, and the politics of the British Left are all examined. Chapters also discuss Orwell's status among intellectuals and in the literary academy.
Arguably the most influential political writer of the twentieth century, George Orwell remains a crucial voice for our times. Known world-wide for his two best-selling masterpieces Nineteen Eighty-Four, a gripping portrait of a dystopian future, and Animal Farm, a brilliant satire on the Russian Revolution, Orwell has been revered as an essayist, journalist and literary-political intellectual, and his works have exerted a powerful international impact on the post-World War Two era. This Introduction examines Orwell's life, work and legacy, addressing his towering achievement and his ongoing appeal. Combining important biographical detail with close analysis of his writings, the book considers the various genres in which Orwell wrote: the realistic novel, the essay, journalism and the anti-utopia. Ideally suited for readers approaching Orwell's work for the first time, the book concludes with an extended reflection on why George Orwell has enjoyed a literary afterlife unprecedented among modern authors in any language.
By examining the politics of literary reception as a dimension of cultural history, John Rodden gives us a better understanding of Orwell's unique and enduring role in Anglo-American intellectual life.
The year 2003 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Orwell, one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century. Orwell's books are assigned today in over 60,000 classrooms annually. In this book essays by prominent writers and scholars explain why his impact continues in a world much changed from his own. The essays explore new aspects of Orwell's life and work and his continuing relevance for the interpretation of modern social, political, and cultural affairs. Thematic topics include: the use and abuse of 1984; ideas, ideologues, and intellectuals; biography and autobiography; literary and stylistic analyses; and the reception of Orwell's work abroad. The volume is an ideal secondary source for those who continue to be influenced by Orwell's insights and for teachers of Orwell's work. Contributors: Christopher Hitchens, Jonathan Rose, Ian Williams, Morris Dickstein, John Rodden, Thomas Cushman, Ronald F. Thiemann, Lawrence Rosenwald, Todd Gitlin, Erika Gottlieb, Dennis Wrong, Daphne Patai, Jim Sleeper, William Cain, Lynette Hunter, Margery Sabin, Vladimir Shalpentokh, Miquel Berga, Gilbert Bonifas, Robert Conquest.
Spy romances of Cold War counterespionage evoke scenes of heroic FBI and CIA agents dedicated to smashing communism and its subversive coterie of intellectual fellow travelers bent on painting the world red. John Rodden cuts this tall tale down to its authentic pint size, refusing to indulge the public relations myth promoted by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. In Of G-Men and Eggheads, Rodden portrays federal agents’ hilarious obsession with monitoring that ever-present threat to national security, the American literary intellectual. Drawing on government dossiers and archives, Rodden focuses on the onetime members of a radical political sect of ex-Trotskyists (barely numbering a thousand at its height), the so-called New York intellectuals. He describes the nonsensical decades-long pursuit of this group of intellectuals, especially Lionel Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, and Irving Howe. The Keystone Cops style of numerous FBI agents is documented carefully in Rodden's meticulous case studies of how Hoover's men recruited informants to snoop on the "Commies," opened their personal mail, tracked their movements, and reported on their wives and friends.
The year 1984 is just a memory, but the catchwords of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four still routinely pepper public discussions of topics ranging from government surveillance and privacy invasion to language corruption and bureaucratese. Orwell’s work pervades the cultural imagination, while others of his literary generation are long forgotten. Exploring this astonishing afterlife has become the scholarly vocation of John Rodden, who is now the leading authority on the reception, impact, and reinvention of George Orwell—the man and writer—as well as of “Orwell” the cultural icon and historical talisman. In The Unexamined Orwell, Rodden delves into dimensions of Orwell’s life and legacy that have escaped the critical glare. Rodden discusses how several leading American intellectuals have earned the title of Orwell’s “successor,” including Lionel Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, Irving Howe, Christopher Hitchens, and John Lukacs. He then turns to Germany and focuses on the role and relevance of Nineteen Eighty-Four in the now-defunct communist nation of East Germany. Rodden also addresses myths that have grown up around Orwell’s life, including his “more than half-legendary” encounter with Ernest Hemingway in liberated Paris in March 1945, and analyzes literary issues such as his utopian sensibility and his prose style. Finally, Rodden poses the endlessly debated question, “What Would George Orwell Do?,” and speculates about how the prophet of Nineteen Eighty-Four would have reacted to world events. In so doing, Rodden shows how our responses to this question reveal much about our culture’s ongoing need to reappropriate “Orwell. ”
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