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Bernard Crick's biography of George Orwell published in 1980.A scholarly book with numerous photographs,notes and an index.Seventeen chapters 589 pages. Bernard Crick's biography of George Orwell published in 1980.A scholarly book with numerous photographs,notes and an index.Seventeen chapters 589 pages.


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Bernard Crick's biography of George Orwell published in 1980.A scholarly book with numerous photographs,notes and an index.Seventeen chapters 589 pages. Bernard Crick's biography of George Orwell published in 1980.A scholarly book with numerous photographs,notes and an index.Seventeen chapters 589 pages.

30 review for George Orwell: A Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Terry Clague

    Re-reading this, it strikes me that I probably need to re-read most things which probably rules me out of new books for the next thirty years. A brilliant biography, complete with an introduction that should be (it probably already is) required reading for anyone contemplating writing this kind of book. Orwell requested in his Will that no biography be written, and thought that a truthful biography was impossible because "every life viewed from the inside would be a series of disappointments too Re-reading this, it strikes me that I probably need to re-read most things which probably rules me out of new books for the next thirty years. A brilliant biography, complete with an introduction that should be (it probably already is) required reading for anyone contemplating writing this kind of book. Orwell requested in his Will that no biography be written, and thought that a truthful biography was impossible because "every life viewed from the inside would be a series of disappointments too humiliating and disgraceful to contemplate". He didn't get his wish, but he did get a careful biographer who goes to some lengths to check facts and conventional wisdom. Orwell is such a giant of political literature that there's not much for me to add, perhaps save to highlight such things as: - he was taught "rare and strange words" at Eton by a near-blind Aldous Huxley - his ship to Burma departed from Birkenhead - he anticipated Pulp's Common People in his tramping which he could "get out of at any time" according to a gym mistress friend of his sister - the other names he considered were Kenneth Miles and H. Lewis Allways - Ulysses influenced him greatly as he dismissed how it was originally received - "art implies selection...Joyce is attempting to select and represent events and thoughts as they occur in life and not as they occur in fiction" - the nature of him and his work perhaps leads readers to see themselves in these pages, e.g. "like Dr. Johnson, his interlocutory opinions were often excessively decisive, even deliberately provocative" (Orwell as pub bore / columnist / observational comedian) - he and H.G. Wells had the most enjoyable disagreement over lunch in which Wells was called out on his debating technique: "every time I try to tell you how, you ask me what; and every time I try to tell you what, you ask me how" - one can only imagine how extraordinary the weekly editorial meetings of The Tribune were with Orwell as Literary Editor and Aneurin Bevan as an Editorial Director - at a lunch he spied Kingsley Amis and asked his friend to to switch seats so that he didn't have to look at "that corrupt face" - his values may have remained optimistic, but his expectations became pessimistic - "he was a moderate only as a means, not as an ends" - he could deliver a mean aphorism: "at 50, everyone has the face he deserves" Along with all this, the author manages to provide a stunningly good synopses of 1984 which "is a long premeditated, rational warning against totalitarian tendencies in societies like our own rather than a sick prophecy about neo-Nazi takeover, still less a scream of despair and recantation of his democratic Socialism."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Still by far the best Orwell biography. DJ Taylor's is too slight. Jeffrey Meyers - an American - has more facts, but can't get over his urge to piss over everything like a poorly-trained puppy. Still by far the best Orwell biography. DJ Taylor's is too slight. Jeffrey Meyers - an American - has more facts, but can't get over his urge to piss over everything like a poorly-trained puppy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Fine, approving review by the Hitch himself: http://www.newstatesman.com/cultural-... Fine, approving review by the Hitch himself: http://www.newstatesman.com/cultural-...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    I had a high opinion of Orwell before I started on this biography but my estimation is now a little higher having finished this very gentle sympathetic account of his life . What comes out about Orwell , and this you get from the observations of the many who knew him , is his quirkiness and his kindliness. To use a truism he was very «  human « . He was a « one off «  A man of integrity . This is displayed in many many small ways . In no particular order . Things that struck me : 1. he wrote diar I had a high opinion of Orwell before I started on this biography but my estimation is now a little higher having finished this very gentle sympathetic account of his life . What comes out about Orwell , and this you get from the observations of the many who knew him , is his quirkiness and his kindliness. To use a truism he was very «  human « . He was a « one off «  A man of integrity . This is displayed in many many small ways . In no particular order . Things that struck me : 1. he wrote diaries occasionally that simply listed out the days events in chronology, and descriptions that listed out the «  objects «  in a room factually . So his account of the days events at his final UCH location - a private room . «  daily routine 7 am temperature taken 730 blanket bath Bed made Shaving water. Etc etc Then ; Room has : Wash basin , cupboard , bedside locker .... etc etc 2. People reported how gentle he was in person and manner versus how fiery he could be in print 3. Continuously smoking 4. His writing more important than anything else even his wife. And his wife understands this 5. He struggles for money his entire life and only has wealth in his final year when he is bed bound and unable to spend it . 6. His love of birds, of nature , his closeness to animals 7. occasional glint of sadism - he disembowels an adder 8. His obsessive desire to remarry after Eileen dies in 1945. He asks somebody he has met once before to Marry him 9. His dying wish - no memorial service , no biography , many of his books to be removed from publication 10. His many many friends 11. His adoption of the working and lower classes as a group whose interests he defends through out his life 12. His great and modest bravery in Spain fighting in the civil war in 1936-7 13. Most obviously his quite electrifying writing style that speaks so directly - the opening lines of Homage to Catalonia are a fine example 14. He marries Sonia his second wife in October 1949. He is now in hospital UCH London dying of tuberculosis. He marries in hospital. He sports a purple velvet smoking jacket for his wedding.He is too ill to attend the reception. 15. He and Sonia and Richard his son are planning to leave for Switzerland for a cure at the end of January 1950. He dies on January 21 of a haemorrhage. I was very sad to finish this biography

  5. 4 out of 5

    Craig Hart

    Bernard Crick’s biography of George Orwell, titled George Orwell: A Life, was originally published in 1982 and was the first biography to be written with the cooperation of Orwell’s widow. This new edition, scheduled to be released on May 30, 2019, continues to show the increase of interest in Orwell and his writings, no doubt due, at least in part, to the current political climate around the world. A lot of people are feeling as if we are seeing Orwellian politics at work in our systems of gove Bernard Crick’s biography of George Orwell, titled George Orwell: A Life, was originally published in 1982 and was the first biography to be written with the cooperation of Orwell’s widow. This new edition, scheduled to be released on May 30, 2019, continues to show the increase of interest in Orwell and his writings, no doubt due, at least in part, to the current political climate around the world. A lot of people are feeling as if we are seeing Orwellian politics at work in our systems of government and that makes reading work by or about Orwell seem almost comforting in its prescience. Bernard Crick’s writing, while seeming often archaic, betrays a unique understanding of the man Orwell, and spares no expense in attempting to communicate that insight to the reader. George Orwell: A Life gets five stars for being a meticulous, well-presented biography, and any student of Orwell would do well do pick up this new edition. https://youtu.be/pwRajVoP7gE

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bex

    Simply put, this biography is masterful. Sir Bernard Crick explores George Orwell's life and character to an outstanding degree of detail. Although Orwell requested that a biography never be written about him, this text paints a picture of him as a complex introverted man with great integrity in his life and work. I was a fan of Orwell before, but now I am captivated - I cannot recommend 'George Orwell: A Life' enough and would encourage all types of readers to pick it up. Thank you to NetGalley Simply put, this biography is masterful. Sir Bernard Crick explores George Orwell's life and character to an outstanding degree of detail. Although Orwell requested that a biography never be written about him, this text paints a picture of him as a complex introverted man with great integrity in his life and work. I was a fan of Orwell before, but now I am captivated - I cannot recommend 'George Orwell: A Life' enough and would encourage all types of readers to pick it up. Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this text in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dominic

    The name "Orwell" is more closely associated with dystopia visions of the future than with a man who lived and breathed. Ever since the publication of 1984, we've used the term "Orwellian" to describe suffocating oppression in totalitarian regimes. Yet, George Orwell's life and political philosophy was more than a condemnation of totalitarianism, as notable as that condemnation was. Bernard Crick's biography of Orwell - the first of its kind when it was published in 1980 - attempts to understand The name "Orwell" is more closely associated with dystopia visions of the future than with a man who lived and breathed. Ever since the publication of 1984, we've used the term "Orwellian" to describe suffocating oppression in totalitarian regimes. Yet, George Orwell's life and political philosophy was more than a condemnation of totalitarianism, as notable as that condemnation was. Bernard Crick's biography of Orwell - the first of its kind when it was published in 1980 - attempts to understand the man and his works.  Prof. Bernard Crick was a scholar and political theorist, and this book reads as such. This book is not a "popular" biography of Orwell. Crick is less interested in telling a "story" about Orwell than he is in uncovering the truth about Orwell's life. He relies heavily on Orwell's letters to his contemporaries and his political essays to try to piece together what Orwell believed and when. All this can make the book a bit intimidating to readers less familiar with the world of mid-20th century British intellectuals.  That said, Crick's approach allows him to convincingly dispel common myths about Orwell. For example, many scholars and teachers - including mine my 7th grade English teacher - claim Animal Farm represents Orwell's disillusionment with socialism. However, Crick shows that Orwell never gave up his leftist ideals. Rather, Animal Farm reflected his frustration with the communists' betrayal of the revolution. Crick points to a specific incident that Orwell witnessed during the Spanish Civil War in which Communist fighters attacked other leftists who had wanted to prioritize economic reform ahead of the war effort.  Orwell's 1984 was published more than 70 years ago, in June 1949. That one book has tended to overshadow the rest of Orwell's intellectual legacy. Bernard Crick's biography is a good place to start for readers interested in better understanding the depth and breadth of Orwell's life and literary works. 

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brigi

    I feel like I deserve a little 'hallelujah' for finishing this book. It's not the first biography on Orwell I've read, so I have a bit of experience. I must say the first half (sadly, not the one I needed) was more interesting. I had the impression that Crick inserted many unimportant details, events from Orwell's life. I mean, yes, they might have been interesting for someone living in that period who knew the other journalists/writers, but I think for today's man they don't seem essential. Howev I feel like I deserve a little 'hallelujah' for finishing this book. It's not the first biography on Orwell I've read, so I have a bit of experience. I must say the first half (sadly, not the one I needed) was more interesting. I had the impression that Crick inserted many unimportant details, events from Orwell's life. I mean, yes, they might have been interesting for someone living in that period who knew the other journalists/writers, but I think for today's man they don't seem essential. However, it might have been just me, as I am reading with a clear purpose for my thesis: what influenced Orwell in writing 1984. Sadly, there were only hints about this (and those were mostly political too). It's also interesting to see how much new information surfaced for the newer biographies (for example Gordon Bowker's contains more letters).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vasil Kolev

    He clearly was able to do a lot with the information he found, but I still found the book somewhat lacking and overdone at some parts. Still, it's very helpful to put Orwell's writings into some context (that you can't find in the Complete Works). He clearly was able to do a lot with the information he found, but I still found the book somewhat lacking and overdone at some parts. Still, it's very helpful to put Orwell's writings into some context (that you can't find in the Complete Works).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a good biography of Orwell, one that provides what is still the best analysis of his politics.

  11. 5 out of 5

    George1st

    Despite being originally published in 1982 Bernard Crick's masterful biography of this most enigmatic of writers remains the definitive account of Orwell's life and works. Unfortunately the biography was published after I had read his books and so for many years I laboured under a number of misconceptions and misinterpretations concerning some fundamental aspects of his writing. With the co-operation of his widow and with meticulous research which included interviews with many of those who were Despite being originally published in 1982 Bernard Crick's masterful biography of this most enigmatic of writers remains the definitive account of Orwell's life and works. Unfortunately the biography was published after I had read his books and so for many years I laboured under a number of misconceptions and misinterpretations concerning some fundamental aspects of his writing. With the co-operation of his widow and with meticulous research which included interviews with many of those who were still alive who knew him the reader will obtain a further greater appreciation of both the man and the writer and an understanding how Orwell made the political journey from "Tory anarchist" to democratic socialist with an abiding loathing of totalitarianism whether of the right or left. The biography despite its wealth of detail is most readable and emphasis both Orwell's prodigious work ethic and the sheer volume of the work he produced which included journalism, essays, novels and non-fiction books. This is sometimes forgotten as most people when they think of Orwell immediately and often exclusively think of his last two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eight Four. Orwell had a fascinating life which included his time as a policeman in Burma, living the life of a down and out and fighting in the Spanish Civil War. But above all it is his writing that predominates and shines throughout this biography and he is rightly compared to Swift. Orwell's writing style is both simple and subtle and is invariably lucid. Crick presents a political perspective on Orwell's life and work and has concentrated on the facts taking care to avoid speculation unless if unavoidable. Orwell's last book was written as a warning which is just as relevant today as when it was written and the republication of this important biography comes at a welcome time for those of us who share some of his beliefs and concerns.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter Hoopman

    I read this book in this summer (2O2O), Orwell had almost become a mythical person in my mind. Was he an existing figure ?! With Che Guevarra for me this was even worse, I realy doubted if he was actually a man of flesh and blood and not only a print on a T-shirt expressing the need of a utopian real world. So yes I started to read the biography by Bernard Crick to find out whether Orwel was as real as I was interpretating him only from hear saying, films documentaries articles and that’s it. Fr I read this book in this summer (2O2O), Orwell had almost become a mythical person in my mind. Was he an existing figure ?! With Che Guevarra for me this was even worse, I realy doubted if he was actually a man of flesh and blood and not only a print on a T-shirt expressing the need of a utopian real world. So yes I started to read the biography by Bernard Crick to find out whether Orwel was as real as I was interpretating him only from hear saying, films documentaries articles and that’s it. From Orwel to Eric Blair, at start I had some hesitations, how can he (Bernard Crick) say that, what does he realy know about Eric Blair? I and/or Bernard Crick was jumping to conclusions, or worse “judging”. Going on reading the biography, I loved it, probably because it was not glamorous it stays as good as possible to the facts, to what the writer could find back as tangible traceable. Somehow this helped in the end to make Orwell as real as he has been. Probably what kept on hanging is the idea of common decency and how far (for myself) have we drifted of generally or hierarchally speaking ?! Knowing, seeing and understanding this quite a bit, Orwell had an inner compass through which he could see the world and its functioning a bit more than average men and this makes him a very interesting person to discover and appreciate knowing simply that one is not alone in this. 😊

  13. 5 out of 5

    Francesca

    It takes a brave author to directly contradict Orwell's last request that no biography be written about him, but we should all be very thankful Crick took up the gauntlet! His biography of Orwell's life is one of the most insightful and thoroughly researched I've read ; bringing highlights of his letters and essays together with personal recollections from friends and Crick's own analysis of some of the more troubling aspects of an extraordinary life. It's balance of describing the political and p It takes a brave author to directly contradict Orwell's last request that no biography be written about him, but we should all be very thankful Crick took up the gauntlet! His biography of Orwell's life is one of the most insightful and thoroughly researched I've read ; bringing highlights of his letters and essays together with personal recollections from friends and Crick's own analysis of some of the more troubling aspects of an extraordinary life. It's balance of describing the political and personal endear it to both fans of Orwell looking for detail on his ideas and what shaped them , but also to the more casual reader who perhaps is newer or unfamiliar with his works. The only area in which I feel Crick lets this great book down slightly is a tendency to try and justify some of the more uncomfortable moments of Orwell's life - for example troubling stories about his almost assault of a female acquaintance, or references to violent tendencies. Whether these occurred as described or not, the author does lean towards immediately discounting or trying to justify them , when it could be better left to the readers own analysis. However, this remains an undisputed must - read for anyone with an interest in the life and ideology of one of the 21st Century's literary giants at any level of prior acquaintance.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Prathap

    An comprehensive and scholarly tome on George Orwell's life, spanning expansively across his life right from his childhood days to his demise, George Orwell: A Life is a definitive read on one of the most important literary / political voices of our times. The book traces Orwell's life delving into themes including his shifting political inclinations, his sparkling and original essays filled with ideas, his initial books that only managed lukewarm reception, his struggles to get Animal Farm and An comprehensive and scholarly tome on George Orwell's life, spanning expansively across his life right from his childhood days to his demise, George Orwell: A Life is a definitive read on one of the most important literary / political voices of our times. The book traces Orwell's life delving into themes including his shifting political inclinations, his sparkling and original essays filled with ideas, his initial books that only managed lukewarm reception, his struggles to get Animal Farm and 1984 published and his personal life. Critically assessed and compassionately told, there isn't a shred of Orwell's life left unsaid in Sir Bernard Crick's most readable biography of Orwell. Must read for Orwell fans.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Excellent biography – well-researched, engagingly written, plenty of quotes from Orwell and his writings as well as from his associates, relevant and insightful comments – just what a good biography should be. This is a reissue and there have been other biographies since, but this struck me as a very solid and worthwhile one which hasn’t dated.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle (Izzy)

    I have always loved George Orwell, especially since I visited a college in my sophomore year of high school and they did a mock lecture on his life. This book provided an in depth exploration of who he really was and his writings. Highly recommend it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bob Waring

    Comprehensive, informed and humane For the Orwell aficionado a delight, otherwise a splendid invitation, well furnished with enticing extracts from his works. It has sent me back to the source with appetite refreshed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    JoséMaría BlancoWhite

    Too many unnecessary details, tedious and unfocused.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    A perfect combination of literary, political and personal biography. A must for all Orwell scholars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    A definitive biography.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Duncan M Simpson

    As the author admits, a biography that concentrates on the facts (as the writer sees them) with little insight into Orwell's personality. That said, it was a full life of the man and a great read. As the author admits, a biography that concentrates on the facts (as the writer sees them) with little insight into Orwell's personality. That said, it was a full life of the man and a great read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maher Battuti

    A real gem...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Florin

    As much as I tried, and I did try really hard, I wasn't able to finish this book. This might not have so much to do with the book itself, but rather with what the age we live in has done to our "reading taste buds" and to our attention span. It is worth noting that this is a reissue of a book originally published in 1980. Had I attempted to read it back then, I would have, no doubt, finished it, and probably rated it a bit higher. Thanks to NetGalley and Sutherland House for providing me with an As much as I tried, and I did try really hard, I wasn't able to finish this book. This might not have so much to do with the book itself, but rather with what the age we live in has done to our "reading taste buds" and to our attention span. It is worth noting that this is a reissue of a book originally published in 1980. Had I attempted to read it back then, I would have, no doubt, finished it, and probably rated it a bit higher. Thanks to NetGalley and Sutherland House for providing me with an advanced review copy of this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Derek James Baldwin

    Engrossing and ultimately very moving account of the life of George Orwell. Much of the "story" can be found in Orwell's own writings but this brings it together very neatly, albeit sometimes a little over-respectful. Orwell wasn't a saint after all. (But still a very great man.) Engrossing and ultimately very moving account of the life of George Orwell. Much of the "story" can be found in Orwell's own writings but this brings it together very neatly, albeit sometimes a little over-respectful. Orwell wasn't a saint after all. (But still a very great man.)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fishsanwitt

    stamped

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pippa

    I have huge admiration for Orwell and he must have been an incredible man, but unfortunately this biography is rather dull.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark McKenna

    This is a wonderful biography of Orwell, considered the finest, I believe. I just didn't have time to finish it, and wanted to get it off this list. (So I don't look illiterate). This is a wonderful biography of Orwell, considered the finest, I believe. I just didn't have time to finish it, and wanted to get it off this list. (So I don't look illiterate).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dlnsctt

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

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