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"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 t "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.


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"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 t "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.

30 review for Shooting an Elephant

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X Off having adventures

    The end of the Empire came when those who had previously given up their arms and all their wealth to he-who-wears-a-pith-helmet and burns-in-the-sun realised that Jack was not only as good as his master, but his master was a total dickhead anyway. And it was past due time he went home to colder climes and the fat queen who wore a golden crown studded with jewels stolen from their lands. This story is about one of the sunburned crew realising that yeah, he is a dickhead and reflecting on the leng The end of the Empire came when those who had previously given up their arms and all their wealth to he-who-wears-a-pith-helmet and burns-in-the-sun realised that Jack was not only as good as his master, but his master was a total dickhead anyway. And it was past due time he went home to colder climes and the fat queen who wore a golden crown studded with jewels stolen from their lands. This story is about one of the sunburned crew realising that yeah, he is a dickhead and reflecting on the lengths he went to just to stop other people realising that. But they knew, they just didn't know they could do anything about it, deprived of arms and government as they were. All they could do was force him to behave in ways that would benefit themselves. In this case, he had to kill a mad elephant that he didn't want to or even seen the need to, but that was his role and elephant was their favourite food. The satisfaction of forcing the white man and his gun to perform his self-defined role was one thing, but defining their own roles another. Eventually though, revolution and independence became possible and then inevitable. Well, actually not. The British government has been trying to get its remaining outposts of empire to become independent since the mid-80s. The whiter the populace (ie Falklands) the less hard they try and vice versa. (The Labour government actually gave all the rights of passport and settlement that these pale islands enjoyed to the darker ones, which was something). The problem is that the non-independent islands are now in the position of power. They are all self-governing and the UK is responsible for defence, helps out with major island maintenance via its roving ships, sends old books to the libraries and provides a good place of tertiary education for those that wish it. The only irksome thing for the locals is having to have a meet-and-greet governor who generally lords it over everyone having gathered a coterie of cocktail-party going expats and rich, sycophantic locals around him. But the main benefit is that our often thoroughly-corrupt politicians cannot change the political system and elect themselves dictator president-for-life. So no one except the thoroughly-corrupt politicos actually wants independence. Empire died. Britain's cold and grey and poor, and we are sunny and warm and not too badly off. We can come to the mother country and work, you can't come here without a work permit. Karma. Great story. Very short. As well-written as everything else by Orwell. is a free link to this very short story and other writing by Orwell.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    This was my introduction to George Orwell's non-fiction. Supposedly during his lifetime, Orwell was known foremost as an essayist; this was quite surprising to me as it was only a couple of years ago that I'd ever even heard mention of Orwell writing non-fiction. This collection of essays really impressed me.Firstly, the subject matter was very varied, discussing Orwell's observations during his time in Burma, his stay in a French hospital (very horrific), and also his views on books, literary f This was my introduction to George Orwell's non-fiction. Supposedly during his lifetime, Orwell was known foremost as an essayist; this was quite surprising to me as it was only a couple of years ago that I'd ever even heard mention of Orwell writing non-fiction. This collection of essays really impressed me.Firstly, the subject matter was very varied, discussing Orwell's observations during his time in Burma, his stay in a French hospital (very horrific), and also his views on books, literary figures and so on.I think his observations about society are still very much valid, and I thoroughly enjoyed his thoughts, his dry wit. Very informative. My favourite essays were "Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool,' "Politics and the English Language," and "Politics and Literature." "Politics and Language" in particular was quite enlightening and offered some advice on good writing habits: "If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythm of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphorious." And for proof that politics hasn't changed much over the years, "Politics and English Language" has the following words : "Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness." Highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I read most (maybe all) of this collection as a young man, in my late teens or early twenties. The essay I remembered most was ‘A Hanging’, which along with the title piece was one of two taken from Orwell’s time as a police Superintendent in colonial Burma. It retains its impact even on a second read. In one section, Orwell describes the condemned man walking to the gallows, and stepping aside to avoid a puddle in his path: “It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means I read most (maybe all) of this collection as a young man, in my late teens or early twenties. The essay I remembered most was ‘A Hanging’, which along with the title piece was one of two taken from Orwell’s time as a police Superintendent in colonial Burma. It retains its impact even on a second read. In one section, Orwell describes the condemned man walking to the gallows, and stepping aside to avoid a puddle in his path: “It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide.” The title story is another powerful piece, but strangely the other essay I recalled best was ‘Boys’ Weeklies’, from 1939, an extended rant about the negative influence of boys’ comics (several of the titles he mentions were still popular in my own youth). It is maybe the weakest entry in the collection. Perhaps that’s why I remembered it. In reading the more directly political essays, I was struck by how much the arguments mirror modern-day culture wars. This is especially the case in ‘The Prevention of Literature’. Like John Stuart Mill, Orwell recognised that in a democratic country, it is the force of public opinion that represents the greatest threat to freedom of expression. Whilst most of these essays were written when Orwell was politically on the far left, he was never one to subscribe to Groupthink. He ridicules those who performed ideological somersaults over the Nazi-Soviet Pact, or those who “specialize in avoiding awkward questions”. In ‘Looking Back at the Spanish War’, he comments that “what impressed me then, and has impressed me ever since, is that atrocities are believed in or disbelieved in solely on the grounds of political predilection…without ever bothering to examine the evidence.” The autobiographical essays create the impression of a man with few happy memories. Orwell’s schooldays were wretched, his life as a tramp was wretched, and his life in Burma was wretched even though he was theoretically in a position of power and privilege. In Spain he believed in what he was doing, but he still went through the experiences of a soldier on the frontline. But this collection is nothing if not eclectic. ‘Bookshop Memories’ and ‘Confessions of a Book Reviewer’ are comic pieces that had me laughing throughout. On the other hand, ‘How the Poor Die’, an account of a spell in a Paris hospital in 1929, is best read before rather than after a meal. It’s nearly 40 years since I last read anything by Orwell, and I’d forgotten how good he was. Taken as a whole this was a four-star read for me, but I would rate several of the individual essays as five stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mohsin Maqbool

    An old Penguin edition of "Shooting an Elephant". "Shooting an Elephant" is an essay by George Orwell, first published in the literary magazine New Writing in the autumn of 1936. The hunter caught in the hunted's eye. The essay describes the experience of the English narrator, possibly Orwell himself, called upon to shoot an aggressive elephant while working as a police officer in Burma (now Myanmar). Even the elephant’s mahout has gone looking for it but he somehow seems to be on a wild-goose ch An old Penguin edition of "Shooting an Elephant". "Shooting an Elephant" is an essay by George Orwell, first published in the literary magazine New Writing in the autumn of 1936. The hunter caught in the hunted's eye. The essay describes the experience of the English narrator, possibly Orwell himself, called upon to shoot an aggressive elephant while working as a police officer in Burma (now Myanmar). Even the elephant’s mahout has gone looking for it but he somehow seems to be on a wild-goose chase as he has headed off in exactly the opposite direction. The more locals the police officer meets on the way, he gets to hear different versions of the story. It is something akin to Chinese whispers. The officer does find a coolie who has been trampled to death – probably by a mad or angry elephant. However, when he actually gets to see the elephant from a distance of eight yards, it seems to be extremely happy and busy in eating grass. But will he kill the elephant against his better judgment because the locals expect him to do the job? Will he please the 2,000-strong crowd 'solely to avoid looking a fool'? Who is whose enemy? The story is regarded as a metaphor for British imperialism, and for Orwell's view that "when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys." The agonizing account of the officer also deals with xenophobia and racism which whites faced in abundance during the British Raj. A mighty beast brought to dust with a rifle held in man's hands. The story also shocks and surprises you as elephants are revered in Thailand while in Burma, a neighbouring country, people are thirsting for the elephant’s blood so that they can feast on its flesh once killed. Pachyderms are revered in India too, which happens to be another country with common borders. George Orwell in Burma Provincial Police Training School in Mandalay (1921). You are bound to fully enjoy the essay as it reads more like an interesting short story rather than a British officer’s tiresome working day. Just in case you get the wrong idea, Orwell loved animals. Here he feeds his pet goat Muriel. Maybe he also had an animal farm where he sang "Old MacDonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-O...." A poster of Juan Pablo Rothie's short film "Shooting an Elephant" based on George Orwell's story. A college professor examines Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" in the following link. Do watch it as it will make you understand the essay and British imperialism better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pxWg... You can watch here trailer of short film "Shooting an Elephant": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoDDn...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    This outstanding collection again shows Orwell was a major essayist. I think it was his strongest asset. His fiction never really won me over. Along with longer pieces there are a fine selection of shorter essays - including "Shooting an Elephant", "My Country Right or Left", "Decline of an English Murder" and "A Hanging". With great originality and wisdom Orwell unfolds his views on subjects ranging from a revaluation of Charles Dickens to a spirited defence of English cooking. Displaying an al This outstanding collection again shows Orwell was a major essayist. I think it was his strongest asset. His fiction never really won me over. Along with longer pieces there are a fine selection of shorter essays - including "Shooting an Elephant", "My Country Right or Left", "Decline of an English Murder" and "A Hanging". With great originality and wisdom Orwell unfolds his views on subjects ranging from a revaluation of Charles Dickens to a spirited defence of English cooking. Displaying an almost unrivalled mastery of English plain prose style, Orwell's essays challenge, move and enlighten. Although he deals with some complex issues, what is most striking about this book is the clean, crisp, easy to read nature. You could probably read it with a hangover and still fully grasp it. Out of admiration Orwell is the sort of writer that would make a lot of other writers extremely jealous. Despite all the time that has passed his non-fiction is still very much worth reading ahead of his fiction. Most of these were simply superb pieces, but the one that stands out for me was Shooting an Elephant. I will never forget that elephant.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen P

    Surely, a vivid account of the oppression and futility of British colonialism in the East, or anywhere colonialism sets up its tent. Further it shows how the oppressor also becomes the oppressed by having to wear a mask to fit the role of oppressor, then the mask becomes their face. It is also a fine study, I believe, of our interior lives and its workings. A ringing metaphor for the roles we find ourselves playing to subscribe to the mores and culture of our land. How who and what we are can be Surely, a vivid account of the oppression and futility of British colonialism in the East, or anywhere colonialism sets up its tent. Further it shows how the oppressor also becomes the oppressed by having to wear a mask to fit the role of oppressor, then the mask becomes their face. It is also a fine study, I believe, of our interior lives and its workings. A ringing metaphor for the roles we find ourselves playing to subscribe to the mores and culture of our land. How who and what we are can be crushed by these pressures. Orwell’s novel-novella takes place in Moulmein, in lower Burma, under British rule. A young British police officer, conflicted about his feelings regarding British imperialism, is called on to shoot a wild elephant who reportedly is terrorizing the Burma town. Having an elephant hunting rifle in hand he takes off to where the elephant is located in a field. The townspeople, of course without access to weapons follow in pursuit of a thrill. At the field the elephant stands appearing as a harmless creature. The young officer does not want to shoot the elephant but at the same time he has a crowd of, “Natives,” behind him who want and expect him to. Will he shoot the elephant to secure a tighter fit as a British Colonizer, or refuse to shoot and have to walk past the large crowd of Burmese men, women, and children? Will he have the guts to locate who he is apart from the role impressed upon him and act according? At the end of watching the short movie of, Shooting the Elephant, two days before reading this great work, my wife and I remained silent trying to situate ourselves again before speaking. Compressed, it was an experience that if shared threaded a bonding. The movie was different than the book in some aspects. There was for me no way to read Orwell’s story without being influenced by the movie. The reflex reaction to compare, dictated a strained restriction that permeated the act of reading, thus reconstructing the theme of the book. Can we step in any direction without being constricted by the expectations of our culture, the expectations imposed by ourselves, even our past experiences? Is it a worthy life pursuit to slice as many of the binds as possible? That is in part what being a reader, writer, an artist, is about?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Numidica

    George Orwell, at his best, is hard to beat. I read 1984 and Animal Farm in high school, and thought I knew Orwell, and frankly I was not very impressed. Then, years later I saw Homage to Catalonia recommended in a list of "Best War Books", and decided to give it a try since I was mildly interested in the Spanish Civil War; from it I learned an entirely new Orwell - the one who wrote about his own experiences, either autobiographically or in novel form (e.g., Burmese Days). After reading Homage, George Orwell, at his best, is hard to beat. I read 1984 and Animal Farm in high school, and thought I knew Orwell, and frankly I was not very impressed. Then, years later I saw Homage to Catalonia recommended in a list of "Best War Books", and decided to give it a try since I was mildly interested in the Spanish Civil War; from it I learned an entirely new Orwell - the one who wrote about his own experiences, either autobiographically or in novel form (e.g., Burmese Days). After reading Homage, I quickly went through Down and Out in Paris and London, Burmese Days, and many of his essays. The lead essay in Shooting an Elephant, from which the book takes it's name, is in a way, a commentary on imperialism, but also it accurately portrays the dilemma the "leader" in any similar situation faces, when it is imperative that he not be embarrassed, because he needs to maintain his authority. The essay about Orwell's time in a French hospital is reminiscent of Down and Out, and his essay regarding How to (and how not to) Write is very worthwhile for anyone who writes, professionally or not. There are a few essays which are dated a bit, as they deal with issues in Britain in the immediate aftermath of WWII, but for the most part the essays have aged well. I particularly liked his essay on the unmitigated good of planting trees, since it is a hobby of mine. As an aside, another book by Orwell which is a little difficult to find now, is Burmese Days. Having lived in Asia in the early '80's, Burmese Days rang true to me, despite the half century between Orwell's time there and mine, and I recommend it if you like Orwell. This book of essays is very worthwhile for any Orwell reader.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    OK, close enough to the end of 2017 for me to determine my favourite reads. Shooting an Elephant is my 2017 BEST EBOOK/DIGITAL READ. This is a great short essay by Orwell, autobiographical. A tame elephant in 'must' is running amok in the town and it is left to the sahib to deal with. Not wanting to kill what is in effect an 'expensive piece of machinery', the sub-divisional police officer is given little choice - the Burmese are not permitted weapons, the elephant has killed a man and caused dama OK, close enough to the end of 2017 for me to determine my favourite reads. Shooting an Elephant is my 2017 BEST EBOOK/DIGITAL READ. This is a great short essay by Orwell, autobiographical. A tame elephant in 'must' is running amok in the town and it is left to the sahib to deal with. Not wanting to kill what is in effect an 'expensive piece of machinery', the sub-divisional police officer is given little choice - the Burmese are not permitted weapons, the elephant has killed a man and caused damage to the town. The locals are entertained by the situation, and look forward to a share of the meat should the elephant die. Orwell explains his feeling that the British Empire is in withdrawal, and he no longer supports its ruling of Burma, and he sides more with the locals. "As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter." "For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British." Excellently written, Orwell uses his situation with the elephant to explain his feeling that the locals were able to control him by their force of will: "Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys." "A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing – no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man's life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at." Five stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Why has it taken me so long to discover George Orwell's non-fiction? Ever since reading 1984 when I was a teenager I've known Orwell was an excellent writer, but I didn't know just how extensive a range he had. Fiction, journalism, literary criticism, political and social commentary, memoir; there appears to be nothing Orwell couldn't turn his hand to. This volume includes a range of Orwell's essays from the 1930s and 1940s, with subjects including Orwell's time as a policeman in Burma, the year Why has it taken me so long to discover George Orwell's non-fiction? Ever since reading 1984 when I was a teenager I've known Orwell was an excellent writer, but I didn't know just how extensive a range he had. Fiction, journalism, literary criticism, political and social commentary, memoir; there appears to be nothing Orwell couldn't turn his hand to. This volume includes a range of Orwell's essays from the 1930s and 1940s, with subjects including Orwell's time as a policeman in Burma, the years he spent in the prep school he loathed, the writing of Charles Dickens, Gullivers Travels, the French hospital system, poverty in England, the cost of books and political language. While I found some of the essays of more inherent interest than others, all of them are engaging, written in wonderfully clear prose and imbued with Orwell's honesty, his passion for social justice and his capacity for at times painful self-reflection. This is great stuff. How glad I am that Orwell was so prolific and that there's a lot more of his writing for me still to discover.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    A teacher my second term of college said I should drop out because of how much I liked Shooting an Elephant. In retrospect, I realize exactly how much of a commentary on her that is. Moral of the story, don't go to community college. A teacher my second term of college said I should drop out because of how much I liked Shooting an Elephant. In retrospect, I realize exactly how much of a commentary on her that is. Moral of the story, don't go to community college.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    Published first in 1936, it is not known if this short story by Orwell is fiction or non-fiction. This is a snapshot of British Imperialism on the individuals level, and it's perception from both sides (politically) of the human experience. A local British official in Colonial Burma is ask to deal with a working elephant run amok in the village. The official, possibly Orwell himself, is torn between shooting the elephant and waiting for his handler to return. He really doesn't want to shoot the Published first in 1936, it is not known if this short story by Orwell is fiction or non-fiction. This is a snapshot of British Imperialism on the individuals level, and it's perception from both sides (politically) of the human experience. A local British official in Colonial Burma is ask to deal with a working elephant run amok in the village. The official, possibly Orwell himself, is torn between shooting the elephant and waiting for his handler to return. He really doesn't want to shoot the elephant, but he feels pressured by the presence of two thousand villagers looking on to act like they expect the imperialist to act. This story is available for free on the Literature Network.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lynne King

    Just wonderful essays and to be revisited many times...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shalini

    "Shooting an Elephant" was an eye-opener for me. I read this story for the first time in my lecture "Masculinities in Literature and Popular Culture", that is, in the context of masculinity of a white, imperialist British officer in contrast to the colonized Indians and Burmese. It was my second book by Orwell - the first being Animal Farm, followed by 1984 and the legendary writer and thinker had already become a fav. This book offers an insight into the minds of some British officers, through "Shooting an Elephant" was an eye-opener for me. I read this story for the first time in my lecture "Masculinities in Literature and Popular Culture", that is, in the context of masculinity of a white, imperialist British officer in contrast to the colonized Indians and Burmese. It was my second book by Orwell - the first being Animal Farm, followed by 1984 and the legendary writer and thinker had already become a fav. This book offers an insight into the minds of some British officers, through the lens of main protagonist Orwell, a British officer in Burma during colonialism, who were full of disdain towards their own leaders and nation which establishes what Frankl wrote in his book "Man's Search for Meaning" - "Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn." Orwell's writing set up in an imperialist society reminds me of two life-changing books I happened to come across recently : i) MK Gandhi - The story of my experiments with truth - The great leader who could convene courage to critic himself and even his embarrassing downsides in front of the world. ii) Viktor Frankl - The renowned psychologist who could even find few heartfelt and compassionate people among Nazis. And then there is Orwell. Through "Shooting an Elephant", he shows his dejection of the treatment of some lives ("Coolie", "only an Indian", and "elephant") as inessential and his feelings of pique with the same.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    He does not want to kill the elephant but he is a British police officer in his country's colony Burma and two thousand (he must be exaggerating) yellow-faced Burmese are watching, expecting him to kill the beast who had gone on a rampage, killing a cow, destroying crops and houses and causing the death of a native. Yet it is now calm, peacefully eating grass, and its owner may soon arrive and bring him home. The rulers, however, have masks to wear and a reputation to protect. They cannot afford He does not want to kill the elephant but he is a British police officer in his country's colony Burma and two thousand (he must be exaggerating) yellow-faced Burmese are watching, expecting him to kill the beast who had gone on a rampage, killing a cow, destroying crops and houses and causing the death of a native. Yet it is now calm, peacefully eating grass, and its owner may soon arrive and bring him home. The rulers, however, have masks to wear and a reputation to protect. They cannot afford to become objects of ridicule of those whom they rule. The latter, on the other hand, have expectations about their rulers. So kill the elephant he must. It was at this point, with the elephant rifle in his hands, that Orwell had this epiphany: "(I)t was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd--seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind." Orwell seemed to like epiphanies like this (where he takes part in a killing) so much. We see this in his other story entitled "A Hanging" which I shall review after this. Stay tuned!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I started reading the title essay, which is free online, and almost immediately stalled at the hostility of the locals. Do I really need to read about The White Man's Burden? I think not. Instead, you may prefer the estimable Petra's remarks: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -- which are largely peripheral to Orwell (tho she does like his work, as do I), plus you get stuff like "Britain's cold and grey and poor, and we are sunny and warm and not too badly off. We can come to the mother count I started reading the title essay, which is free online, and almost immediately stalled at the hostility of the locals. Do I really need to read about The White Man's Burden? I think not. Instead, you may prefer the estimable Petra's remarks: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -- which are largely peripheral to Orwell (tho she does like his work, as do I), plus you get stuff like "Britain's cold and grey and poor, and we are sunny and warm and not too badly off. We can come to the mother country and work, you can't come here without a work permit. Karma." Hee hee. So I might try old George's reluctant elephant-execution again. Or not. But we'll always have Petra! I hope....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    This is a brilliant collection of essays. Orwell is still relevant today and always worth reading.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Gonçalves

    As seen in /my link text Although a writer, Orwell was primarily a journalist. As a result, the sheer necessity to extricate himself from the depiction of something he his witnessing first-hand is quite evident along his works. What differentiates him from his other novelist-journalists of his epoch such as Steinbeck or Hemmingway is the ability to drop a considerable amount of humanity into his accounts. The essay “A Hanging” – in which Orwell describes how it was to witness a public execution As seen in /my link text Although a writer, Orwell was primarily a journalist. As a result, the sheer necessity to extricate himself from the depiction of something he his witnessing first-hand is quite evident along his works. What differentiates him from his other novelist-journalists of his epoch such as Steinbeck or Hemmingway is the ability to drop a considerable amount of humanity into his accounts. The essay “A Hanging” – in which Orwell describes how it was to witness a public execution of a prisoner in India – is a perfect example of this. In it, he not only expresses his contempt for the man who is about to die, but he also acknowledges the wrongness of the situation. In “How the Poor Die”, he recounts his memories of his unpleasant stay at Hôpital X in Paris. Once again, he shows affection towards the unfortunate people who died alone and helpless in the corridors of the establishment. Other than his empathy, Orwell holds a pragmatic view regarding writing, language and communication. “The prevention of Literature” and “Politics and the English Language” are the most conspicuous examples. In these two essays, he argues about the pretentiousness of certain writers, who use ideas to convey words, and not the other way around. One can say that these points of view might have emerged during his years working as a journalist, yet the arguments he utilizes hold enough poignancy to persuade the reader. In essence, and from his perspective, the “ego” should not count when writing. He reveals he writes only when he has something to tell the audience, and not exclusively as means of self-recreation. Defining someone as “ahead of his time” might be regarded as a cliché or commonplace. But when it comes to portraying George, this needs to be done. This book should be seen as essential. That is, if you the reader wants to explore the mind of a man who lived through most of the pivotal points in the first half of the XX century, although not always fully belonging.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    This book was probably one of the most interesting novels I have ever read. It is not a traditional book, which is one thing I liked a lot about it. It is actually a collection of essays by George Orwell. I have read Animal Farm, by George Orwell as well, and that was one of the most amazing books I have ever read (on an analytical level). One of my favorite essays was about Gandhi, whom is obviously a very convtroversal man. His ideals are widely debated all around the world. One of the most int This book was probably one of the most interesting novels I have ever read. It is not a traditional book, which is one thing I liked a lot about it. It is actually a collection of essays by George Orwell. I have read Animal Farm, by George Orwell as well, and that was one of the most amazing books I have ever read (on an analytical level). One of my favorite essays was about Gandhi, whom is obviously a very convtroversal man. His ideals are widely debated all around the world. One of the most interesting things Orwell said was that he did not agree with a lot of Gandhi's personal beliefs, but agreed with many of the statements he made concerning societies as a whole. I never really thought about being able to agree with the suggestions made by a man you disagree with on a whole. I find that incredibly interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Orwell made this account very interesting. I really liked the writing. It is about Orwell's job as a police officer in Burma, a job which he hated. The British were still in control of the Indian subcontinent. Shooting an Elephant is a confession about how George Orwell felt. He hated imperialism and he was secretly in favor of the Burmese. He narrates the events that take place while searching for an escaped elephant, and he is in a very difficult position. Orwell has a gun but he does not want Orwell made this account very interesting. I really liked the writing. It is about Orwell's job as a police officer in Burma, a job which he hated. The British were still in control of the Indian subcontinent. Shooting an Elephant is a confession about how George Orwell felt. He hated imperialism and he was secretly in favor of the Burmese. He narrates the events that take place while searching for an escaped elephant, and he is in a very difficult position. Orwell has a gun but he does not want to shoot the innocent creature at all. I found it interesting when he described the audience watching him, many, many people watching him. What else was he supposed to do? He had no choice but to shoot the elephant. Orwell makes it heartbreaking as he describes the elephant's suffering, suffering a long and painful death. He wrote that he did it "solely to avoid looking a fool."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    Arguably the greatest essayist writing in English. George Orwell’s famous six rules for writing, taken from “Politics and the English Language”: 1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. 2. Never use a long word where a short one will do. 3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. 4. Never use the passive where you can use the active. 5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyda Arguably the greatest essayist writing in English. George Orwell’s famous six rules for writing, taken from “Politics and the English Language”: 1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. 2. Never use a long word where a short one will do. 3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. 4. Never use the passive where you can use the active. 5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. 6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Apratim Mukherjee

    This is a collection of Orwell's essays which have been written on a wide range of topics like his days in Myanmar(previously known as Burma), his school days in Sussex , Charles Dickens ,Mahatma Gandhi, English literature to boy's magazines etc.Few like 'Charles Dickens' are too long and boring,some are amusing like 'The Spike' but none of them lose their 'Orwellian flavour'.Orwell's works in general were way ahead of his time.The book is an example of the fact Orwell was a great visionary as w This is a collection of Orwell's essays which have been written on a wide range of topics like his days in Myanmar(previously known as Burma), his school days in Sussex , Charles Dickens ,Mahatma Gandhi, English literature to boy's magazines etc.Few like 'Charles Dickens' are too long and boring,some are amusing like 'The Spike' but none of them lose their 'Orwellian flavour'.Orwell's works in general were way ahead of his time.The book is an example of the fact Orwell was a great visionary as well.Though the book has some flaws( like some boring passages,sometimes its pessimistic),I would still rate it five out of five(just because Orwell is timeless)...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Lovely -- I can't believe I let this sit on my shelf for 3 years before getting round to it. I have not read Orwell before, save for Animal Farm as a teenager, and didn't realise what a sharp essayist he is; I certainly intend to read more. Certainly I'm no Orwell expert, but here are a few things I do notice from this collection: 1. How much he is a proletariat voice, despite his middle class family background and relatively elite education (admittedly on scholarship) -- witness his criticism of Lovely -- I can't believe I let this sit on my shelf for 3 years before getting round to it. I have not read Orwell before, save for Animal Farm as a teenager, and didn't realise what a sharp essayist he is; I certainly intend to read more. Certainly I'm no Orwell expert, but here are a few things I do notice from this collection: 1. How much he is a proletariat voice, despite his middle class family background and relatively elite education (admittedly on scholarship) -- witness his criticism of Dickens' lack of realistic empathy for the real working classes, his sensitiveness to the biases of the weekly magazines that then passed for cheap mass entertainment, his embedded journalism in the homeless shelter, the very title of "How The Poor Die", etc. His sympathies are entirely with the working class. 2. How against totalitarianism he was -- and yet how much this dates him (for which I remove a star); his specific political attacks seem hardly relevant now. What is relevant, though, and linked to his political commentary, is his attack on censorship and the politicization of knowledge/truth/writing. Interestingly, this was directed at his own Britain, where newspaper reporting was apparently politicized as a result of the wars; how he saw the politicization of knowledge inevitably means a malleable history, a malleable truth, a past that belongs to the elite. 3. What a sharp literary critic he was -- his essays on Charles Dickens and, separately, Swift's Gullivers Travels are brilliant. I like how he argues Dickens is a moralist -- his novels never critique the system, rather, the morality and behavior of people in the system -- and how he extends this to argue that there are always two views: how can you improve the system so as to improve human behavior, versus, you must first change human behavior for any system to work. (I confess myself very much of the latter view.) 4. The same qualities that make him a good literary critic, I think, make him an excellent biographical essayist -- he is reflective and sufficiently sensitive to his own internal reactions, that some of his best stuff are his reminiscences -- the titular essay, Shooting An Elephant, for example, is a rather tragic, honest self-accounting, while Such, Such Were The Joys, is a surprisingly vehement recounting of his days in boarding school. (I've not come across a single positive overall memory of the British boarding school system in the early 20th C...) 5. Simply what an entertaining writer he is -- I can read 3 or 4 of these at a go, even though they're full of insights, they read at a great pace.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lila Kims

    First Orwell story I've read, and it was excellent. 👌 First Orwell story I've read, and it was excellent. 👌

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eve Kay

    Reading Orwell is like reading my own thoughts. Having him write them out for me is almost like spiritual experience. For lack of a better word. No, he'd hate the words spiritual experience. It's like mindblow. That's what it is. He wouldn't have known what that is. Unless he'd already thought of that back when. Like he did so many other things. It's almost creapy. Here are some of the best essays, articles, letters of the volume I read: Why I Write Kind of like having a person you greatly admire l Reading Orwell is like reading my own thoughts. Having him write them out for me is almost like spiritual experience. For lack of a better word. No, he'd hate the words spiritual experience. It's like mindblow. That's what it is. He wouldn't have known what that is. Unless he'd already thought of that back when. Like he did so many other things. It's almost creapy. Here are some of the best essays, articles, letters of the volume I read: Why I Write Kind of like having a person you greatly admire let you into their professional life and -mind and tell you respectably why they do what they do for a living. A Hanging A first look, in this volume I read, into what was coming up. Initial expectation of Shooting an Elephant grew. Like taking a trip in a time capsule to witness something horrific. Shooting an Elephant Leaves an everlasting imprint in my mind. The way Orwell tells the story and details it from many points of view makes it hard to "pick a side". Bookshop Memories First thoughts arise in my mind about how time has changed and at the same time realizing that this volume is also a look into the world Orwell lived in and how much is still the same. At the same time we get an idea of what kind of things he did for a living. At one point he worked in a bookshop. Marrakesch A glimpse of life in Marrakesch. Harsh and real. So brutally real. Wells, Hitler and the World order Orwell's political views on war and mainly England. Poetry and the Microphone A real and honest proof how times have changed. To read poetry on radio is such an out-there idea that I'm thinking I came up with it. Why isn't anyone else thinking about this? Because video killed the radiostar. And Orwell foresaw that TOO. London letter for Partisan Review Orwell's view points on war, England, the elite, etc. Notes on Nationalism Like reading my own thoughts for the first time and having someone explain them to me first hand. A very odd experience. Feeling a true kinmanship with Orwell. Revenge is Sour A detailed explanation on different views on revenge. Why others want it but can't carry it out. In Front of Your Nose Orwell's views on the state of the world (1946 and before). Confessions of a Book Reviewer Why it's hard and how underappreciated the work was. How the Poor Die Gruesome, although I already knew things were like this in many a hospital back when, very life-like description of a French hospital. Orwell was probably able to write it so well because unfortunately he had to spend some time there himself, but many stories he tells second hand are also very believable thanks to his masterful penmanship. Such, Such Were the Joys One of the best pieces of literature I've read in a long time. Many of the details weren't new to me but I read it as a diary of Orwell's. All of it was new to me in terms of Orwell having gone through it. At the same time able to relate to alot of it even if not at the same exact detailed level but feelings, ideas, views on childhood and so on.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    I have read some autobiographical essays, just the like of my favorite ones by Richard Rodriguez, considered as one of America’s best essayists. But this one by George Orwell , is, for me, more remarkable in comparison . I was impressed. I liked it : simple but transparent, plainspoken, and persuasively natural. I would say that this is the kind of writing styles I would like to imitate. George Orwell wrote about his anecdotal experience as a military policeman in Burma ( Myanmar now ) under th I have read some autobiographical essays, just the like of my favorite ones by Richard Rodriguez, considered as one of America’s best essayists. But this one by George Orwell , is, for me, more remarkable in comparison . I was impressed. I liked it : simple but transparent, plainspoken, and persuasively natural. I would say that this is the kind of writing styles I would like to imitate. George Orwell wrote about his anecdotal experience as a military policeman in Burma ( Myanmar now ) under the British government. He stated his difficult adjustment in a country where the atmosphere was emotionally suppressing because of the atrocious social classification at that time. His mettle was tested when he was expected to shoot an elephant considered by some at that time as a pain in the neck. So he would be in bind whether he had to kill or save the elephant. Despite that it is considered to be an autobiographical essay, reading it is like as though a short story; it is absorbing. I liked the fact the narrator, probably Orwell himself, describes his experiences in simply artistic structures of the sentences ; consequently, I got absorbed in a tell-tale. As a matter of fact, I was carried out by the sequences. When the story ended, I felt like one of the spectators watched him kill the elephant and was relieved. But the truth I could be part of Orwell’s other side of self: leaving the scene in agony. Behind its anecdotal façade, there is something metaphorical about the essay. It has something to do with Britain’s imperialism and its effect in Burma. In fact, in this essay, Orwell clearly states his displeasure with colonial Britain. I have not read other Orwell’s novels yet, except The Animal Farm ( 3 stars ). This is my first time to have read one of his essays. I have learned a lot from Orwell’s writing styles. First, I liked the way he writes. I have tried to imitate other writers’ writing styles, but reading this one gave me the epiphany that I do not need to sound intellectual: I can write a simple essay but naturally moving. Second, writing is an instrument for making a big difference to social issues. Besides, we do not need to wish that we were genius. I believe we can learn how to write skillfully. It is a matter of practice and effort at will.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    I always find reading George Orwell's essays pleasurable, therefore, it's my joy to come across this paperback a few years ago in a bookstore in BKK. I read each voraciously and wondered why he wrote so well, so superbly that he should deserve to be honored as a writer with fantastic writing style. I'm sorry I don't have this book nearby (it's been lent to my student to read during her summer holidays since last week), however, these are my favorites: 1) Why I Write, 2) Bookshop Memories, 3) Con I always find reading George Orwell's essays pleasurable, therefore, it's my joy to come across this paperback a few years ago in a bookstore in BKK. I read each voraciously and wondered why he wrote so well, so superbly that he should deserve to be honored as a writer with fantastic writing style. I'm sorry I don't have this book nearby (it's been lent to my student to read during her summer holidays since last week), however, these are my favorites: 1) Why I Write, 2) Bookshop Memories, 3) Confessions of a Book Reviewer, 4) Such, Such Were the Joys, etc.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mario G

    Orwell writes in a conversational tone about subjects which range from dead serious (what it feels like to witness a hanging, the Spanish Civil War, poor conditions in French public hospitals, his hatred of totalitarianism) to downright quirky (the life cycle of the toad, the pros and cons of working in a bookstore, how underrated English cooking is, the price of books v. the price of cigarettes). However, if one of these essays deserves your hard-earned time, it's the bracing exploration of his Orwell writes in a conversational tone about subjects which range from dead serious (what it feels like to witness a hanging, the Spanish Civil War, poor conditions in French public hospitals, his hatred of totalitarianism) to downright quirky (the life cycle of the toad, the pros and cons of working in a bookstore, how underrated English cooking is, the price of books v. the price of cigarettes). However, if one of these essays deserves your hard-earned time, it's the bracing exploration of his own human vulnerability on the titular "Shooting an Elephant".

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Graphic, dreadful and grim account.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Madhulika Liddle

    I will admit I began reading this book not just because it was by George Orwell—an author for whom I have the greatest respect—but also because the title essay was one I remembered as having had to study years ago, in school. Shooting an Elephant, like the essay that immediately follows it—A Hanging—is a memoir from Orwell’s days as a British civil servant in Burma. On its surface, a straightforward account of a dramatic (in greater or lesser degree, depending upon which of these two essays you’ I will admit I began reading this book not just because it was by George Orwell—an author for whom I have the greatest respect—but also because the title essay was one I remembered as having had to study years ago, in school. Shooting an Elephant, like the essay that immediately follows it—A Hanging—is a memoir from Orwell’s days as a British civil servant in Burma. On its surface, a straightforward account of a dramatic (in greater or lesser degree, depending upon which of these two essays you’re looking at) incident. Deeper down, something more: a reflection of what it means to be part of a system one does not fully identify with, the conflict between humanism and professional duty, between heart and head. That contrast, that dualism, the variety of thought, is something that marks, to some extent or the other, all eighteen essays in this book. These cover a widely differing range of topics. In Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool, for instance, Orwell analyzes Tolstoy’s criticism of Shakespeare’s King Lear; in Politics vs. Literature—An examination of Gulliver’s travels, Politics and the English Language, The Prevention of Literature, Confessions of a Book Reviewer and Books vs Cigarettes, Orwell is in territory that most people would expect of a writer of his calibre: discussing books and literature from different angles and perspectives. As the man who wrote brilliantly political novels like 1984 and Animal Farm, too, he’s on expected ground in essays about politics and political figures, such as Second Thoughts on James Burnham and Reflections on Gandhi. In all of these, Orwell comes across as highly intelligent, humanistic, liberal and immensely knowledgeable. In contrast to these more or less expected, ‘serious’ essays on politics and literature, there are somewhat lighter—but not frivolous, never irrelevant or merely entertaining—essays on everything from the importance of trees to the coming of spring, what constitutes a ‘good murder’ in press reporting, how sports relates to politics, and so on. These, all towards the end of the book, are much shorter than the earlier, more erudite essays. Like the earlier ones, however, they too reveal a good deal about the essayist: Orwell comes across not just as the politically upright liberal that he was, but also a man who is at one with nature, who has a sense of humour, and who—by the confession of what he imagined America to be (based largely on what he read as a child, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, etc)—is also much like the rest of us. The earlier essays I found enlightening and impressive; the later ones I found enjoyable and much more personal, yet as insightful as the earlier ones. Highly recommended, whether you’re a reader, a writer, or both.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    My dad, who is in China, shared a picture he took of an elephant... grand creatures which are ugly in a beautiful sort of way. Along with the photo, Dad suggested reading Orwell's Shooting an Elephant "to further our education." It is a short essay written about a personal experience by Orwell. He is a police officer in Burma caught in the middle of a triangle of contempt: against the natives who resent the oppressive reign of the British and thus mock Orwell, against the British for their tyran My dad, who is in China, shared a picture he took of an elephant... grand creatures which are ugly in a beautiful sort of way. Along with the photo, Dad suggested reading Orwell's Shooting an Elephant "to further our education." It is a short essay written about a personal experience by Orwell. He is a police officer in Burma caught in the middle of a triangle of contempt: against the natives who resent the oppressive reign of the British and thus mock Orwell, against the British for their tyranny and against himself for his struggle of conscience versus reputation. Orwell honestly exposes his weakness and in just a short story teaches us about the evils of imperialism, the loss of freedom, resentment, prejudice and decision-making. Orwell gives enough foreshadowing to predict the outcome, but it still was disturbing. It roused emotion. But then, that is the sign of good story / writer, isn't it?

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