A Reading List Guide to George Orwell

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:56am -- baglio

Eric Arthur Blair, known to readers as George Orwell, is widely known for his thought provoking titles such as Animal Farm, and 1984. Who was George Orwell, and what inspired him to write the stories that have inspired thought and questioning for many generations? This Reading List will sample some of Orwell's books, his personal writings, and provide an in-depth look into the life of the sometimes controversial author. Also, the writings and history of some contemporaries of George Orwell will be available to stimulate the mind as we peer into the world of dystopian stories.

 

 Why Orwell Matters

By, Christopher Hitchens

In this widely acclaimed biographical essay, Christopher Hitchens assesses the life, the achievements, and the myth of the great political writer and participant George Orwell. In true emulative and contrarian style, Hitchens is both admiring and aggressive, sympathetic yet critical, taking true measure of his subject as hero and problem. Answering both the detractors and the false claimants, Hitchens tears down the façade of sainthood erected by the hagiographers and rebuts the critics point by point. He examines Orwell and his perspectives on fascism, empire, feminism, and Englishness, as well as his outlook on America, a country and culture towards which he exhibited much ambivalence. Whether thinking about empires or dictators, race or class, nationalism or popular culture, Orwell's moral outlook remains indispensable in a world that has undergone vast changes in the fifty years since his death. Combining the best of Hitchens's polemical punch and intellectual elegance in a tightly woven and subtle argument, this book addresses not only why Orwell matters today, but how he will continue to matter in a future, uncertain world.Christopher Hitchens, one of the most incisive minds of our own age, meets Orwell on the page in this provocative encounter of wit, contention and moral truth.


 Orwell: The Authorized Biography

By Michael Shelden

Using the pen name George Orwell, Eric Blair produced lucid memoirs ( Down and Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia ), novels ( Animal Farm and 1984 ), and dozens of essays marked by clear, precise writing and political commitment. But Blair was plagued by feelings of inadequacy, bad health, and the premature death of his wife; in 1950, at the age of 46 and at the height of his literary powers, he died of tuberculosis. Shelden has been given access to new material on Blair, but details on the writer's childhood and adolescence remain sketchy and contradictory. The book is more informative on Blair's adulthood, when Shelden provides anecdotes and quotations from personal and professional letters. More trenchant analysis and informed speculation would have improved this modest biography of an important man of English letters. (Index and photos not seen.)-- Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York


Diaries

By George Orwell

This groundbreaking volume, never before published in the United States, at last introduces the interior life of George Orwell, the writer who defined twentieth-century political thought. Written as individual books throughout his career, the eleven surviving diaries collected here record Orwell’s youthful travels among miners and itinerant laborers, the fearsome rise of totalitarianism, the horrific drama of World War II, and the feverish composition of his great masterpieces Animal Farm and 1984 (which have now sold more copies than any two books by any other twentieth-century author). Personal entries cover the tragic death of his first wife and Orwell’s own decline as he battled tuberculosis. Exhibiting great brilliance of prose and composition, these treasured dispatches, edited by the world’s leading Orwell scholar, exhibit “the seeds of famous passages to come” (New Statesman) and amount to a volume as penetrating as the autobiography he would never write.

 

 Homage to Catalonia

By George Orwell

In 1936 Orwell went to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s experiences. 


Shooting and Elephant: and Other Essays

By George Orwell

'Shooting an Elephant' is Orwell's searing and painfully honest account of his experience as a police officer in imperial Burma; killing an escaped elephant in front of a crowd 'solely to avoid looking a fool'. The other masterly essays in this collection include classics such as 'My Country Right or Left', 'How the Poor Die' and 'Such, Such were the Joys', his memoir of the horrors of public school, as well as discussions of Shakespeare, sleeping rough, boys' weeklies and a spirited defence of English cooking. Opinionated, uncompromising, provocative and hugely entertaining, all show Orwell's unique ability to get to the heart of any subject. 


Animal Farm

By George Orwell

Manor Farm is like any other English farm, expect for a drunken owner, Mr Jones, incompetent workers and oppressed animals. Fed up with the ignorance of their human masters, the animals rise up in rebellion and take over the farm. Led by intellectually superior pigs like Snowball and Napoleon, the animals how to take charge of their destiny and remove the inequities of their lives. But as time passes, the realize that things aren't happening quite as expected. Animal Farm is, one level, a simple story about barnyard animals. On a much deeper level, it is a savage political satire on corrupted ideals, misdirected revolutions and class conflict-themes as valid today as they were sixty years ago.


Down and Out in Paris and London

By George Orwell

This unusual fictional account, in good part autobiographical, narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.


1984/Animal Farm

By George Orwell

This edition features George Orwell's best known novels – 1984 and Animal Farm – with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens.
In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind.  Winston Smith joins a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Animal Farm is Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution -- an account of the bold struggle, initiated by the animals, that transforms Mr. Jones's Manor Farm into Animal Farm--a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. But are they?


The Same Man: George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh in Love and War

By David Lebedoff

One climbed to the very top of the social ladder, the other chose to live among tramps. One was a celebrity at twenty-three, the other virtually unknown until his dying days. One was right-wing and religious, the other a socialist and an atheist. Yet, as this ingenious and important new book reveals, at the heart of their lives and writing, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell were essentially the same man. 
Orwell is best known for Animal Farm and 1984, Waugh for Brideshead Revisited and comic novels like Scoop and Vile Bodies. However different they may seem, these two towering figures of twentieth-century literature are linked for the first time in this engaging and unconventional biography, which goes beyond the story of their amazing lives to reach the core of their beliefs–a shared vision that was startlingly prescient about our own troubled times.


Brave New World 

By Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley's profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order whose motto is "Community, Identity, Stability."—all at the cost of our freedom, humanity, and perhaps our souls. "A genius [who] who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine" (The New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history's keenest observers of human nature and civilization. Brave New World, his masterpiece, has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning as we head into tomorrow and as a thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a twenty-first-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites.


Aldous Huxley a Biography

By Nicholas Murray

This biography of Huxley---the first in thirty years---draws on a substantial amount of unpublished material, as well as numerous interviews with his family and friends. It is a portrait of a daring and iconoclastic novelist; a man hampered by semi-blindness, who spent a restless life in search of personal enlightenment. Nicholas Murray charts Huxley’s Bloomsbury years, his surprising and complex relationship with D. H. Lawrence, and his emigration to America in the late 1930s, where he pursued a career as a screenwriter while continuing his fascination with mysticism and religion. Huxley’s private life was also unconventional, and this book reveals for the first time the extraordinary story of the ménage à trois including Huxley, his remarkable wife, Maria, and the Bloomsbury socialite and mistress of Clive Bell, Mary Hutchinson.


Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast

By Patrick McGilligan

A thoroughly researched examination of the life of the renowned director not only looks at the great volume of Lang's work, but also at his personal life, including the question of whether or not he murdered his first wife.


Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.


Anthem

By Ayn Rand

This Novella by Ayn Rand was first published in England in 1938. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age characterized by irrationality, collectivism, and socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the use of the word "I" is punishable by death). Rand, as a teenager living in Soviet Russia, initially conceived Anthem as a play. This is a novel upholding Rand's central principles of her philosophy and of her heroes: reason, values, volition, individualism.

 

The Passion of Ayn Rand

By Barbara Branden

This bestselling biography of one of the 20th century's most remarkable and controversial writers is now available in paperback.  Author Barbara Branden, who knew Rand for nineteen years, provides a matchless portrait of this fiercely private and complex woman.