Cover image for Orwell : wintry conscience of a generation
Orwell : wintry conscience of a generation
Meyers, Jeffrey.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., [2000]

Physical Description:
xvi, 380 pages : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR6029.R8 Z736 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR6029.R8 Z736 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PR6029.R8 Z736 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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This, the first biography to draw on a close study of the new Complete Works, sheds a new light on this extraordinary literary figure through interviews with family and friends, and research into material in the Orwell archive. It also includes unpublished photographs. A child of the waning British empire, Orwell came to reject the class system and through his writing forged a new social consciousness that continues to engage modern intellectual thought. Meyers reveals the human failings of this creative visionary and offers a dark - but nuanced - portrait of the legendary figure.

Author Notes

Jeffrey Meyers, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has written biographies of such literary greats as D.H. Lawrence, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, & F. Scott Fitzgerald.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Seasoned literary biographer Meyers is as agile and insightful as ever in this dramatic account of Orwell's unusual and brief but incalculably influential life. Born Eric Blair in 1903 in northern India, Orwell was raised in England but harbored an abiding guilt over his family's imperialist pursuits and the injustices of colonialism. So vehement was his disdain for middle-class values and his identification with the underdog, he joined the Burma Police rather than attend a university, a punishing endeavor that only deepened his empathy for the poor and the oppressed. Determined to write from firsthand experience about poverty, he returned to England and set off "tramping," living a grueling hand-to-mouth existence that, coupled with his harrowing combat experience in the Spanish Civil War, ruined his precarious health but shaped his passionate essays and world-changing novels, especially Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). With wit and acumen, Meyers portrays a complex, eccentric, intelligent, and unbending man hard on family and friends, a writer of singular gifts, and a "prophetic moralist" whose vision continues to illuminate society's dark side. --Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Two major biographies sit on shelves dedicated to George Orwell (1903-50)DBernard Crick's Orwell: A Life (LJ 3/15/81) and Michael Shelden's Orwell: The Authorized Biography (LJ 10/1/91). Is another detailed look at Orwell really necessary? The answer is an unqualified yes. Meyers, a prolific biographer and critic, has contributed widely to the Orwell literature, and this is his first reassessment of the writer in 25 years. It is also the first important study to utilize the 20-volume The Complete Works of George Orwell (Secker & Warburg, 1998). With freshness, clarity, and compression, Meyers presents the now familiar saga of Orwell's difficult and ultimately tragic life, effectively interweaves excerpts from letters and interviews with Orwell's contemporaries (appending his account of difficulties with interviewees), and generously describes and critiques Orwell's writings, placing him firmly "in the English tradition of prophetic moralists." His writing about Orwell's persistent womanizing may surprise some readers, and his account of Orwell's activities during the Spanish Civil War is especially lucid. More readable and insightful than Crick's effort, though not as substantial as Shelden's, which is better suited to true Orwell aficionados, this will be welcomed by general readers and Orwell admirers. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/00.]DThomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Mapsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Prefacep. xv
1. An Edwardian Childhood, 1903-1914p. 3
2. Misery at St. Cyprian's, 1911-1916p. 16
3. Slacking Off at Eton, 1917-1921p. 28
4. Policing Burma, 1922-1927p. 48
5. The Joy of Destitution, 1927-1932p. 73
6. Among School Children, 1932-1934p. 95
7. Eileen and Wigan Pier, 1935-1937p. 118
8. Fighting for Spain, 1937p. 139
9. Morocco and Coming Up for Air, 1938-1939p. 178
10. London in the Blitz, 1939-1941p. 194
11. Wartime Propagandist, 1941-1943p. 213
12. Fatherhood and Eileen's Death, 1944-1945p. 227
13. Animal Farm and Fame, 1945p. 243
14. Escape to Jura, 1946-1947p. 256
15. The Dark Vision of Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1948p. 274
16. The Art of Dying, 1949-1950p. 292
17. Epilogue: Orwell's Legacyp. 314
Appendix I The Geography of Kipling's "Mandalay"p. 327
Appendix II Allusions in Burmese Daysp. 329
Appendix III Getting at the Truthp. 331
Appendix IV A History of Illnessp. 337
Notesp. 339
Bibliographyp. 367
Indexp. 371