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George Orwell Now!

Preface by Richard Blair, Son of George Orwell

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Edited By Richard Lance Keeble

George Orwell remains an iconic figure today – even though he died in 1950. His dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four depicts a Big Brother society in which the state intrudes into the most intimate details of people’s lives – and, not surprisingly, it became a constant reference point after Edward Snowden’s revelations. The word «Orwellian» is constantly in the media – used either as a pejorative adjective to evoke totalitarian terror or as a complimentary adjective to mean «displaying outspoken intellectual honesty». Interest in Orwell’s life and writings – globally – continues unabated.
Beginning with a preface by Richard Blair, Orwell’s son, George Orwell Now! brings together thirteen chapters by leading international scholars in four thematic sections:
• Peter Marks on Orwell and the history of surveillance studies; Florian Zollmann on Nineteen Eighty-Four in 2014; Henk Vynckier on Orwell’s collecting project; and Adam Stock on ‘Big Brother’s Literary Offspring’
• Paul Anderson «In Defence of Bernard Crick»; Luke Seaber on the «London Section of Down and Out in Paris and London»; John Newsinger on «Orwell’s Socialism»; and Philip Bounds on «Orwell and the Anti-Austerity Left in Britain»
• Marina Remy on the «Writing of Otherness in Burmese Days and Keep the Aspidistra Flying»; Sreya Mallika Datta and Utsa Mukherjee on «Reassessing Ambivalence in Orwell’s Burma»; and Shu-chu Wei on Orwell’s Animal Farm alongside Chen Jo-his’s Mayor Yin
• Tim Crook on «Orwell and the Radio Imagination»; and editor Richard Lance Keeble on «Orwell and the War Reporter’s Imagination»
Peter Stansky, in an afterword, argues that Orwell is now more relevant than ever before.
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Chapter Thirteen: Orwell and the War Reporter’s Imagination

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Orwell AND THE War Reporter’s Imagination

RICHARD LANCE KEEBLE



INTRODUCTION

In late December 1936, George Orwell (under his real name of Eric Blair) arrived in Barcelona to report on the civil war between the Republicans and the fascists led by General Franco.1 Orwell had originally contacted the Communist Party with the aim of reporting from the side of the International Brigades. But, as Richard Baxell reports (2012: 183), Harry Pollitt, its general secretary, was irritated by the writer’s upper middle class background and suspicious of his politics, so ‘flatly turned him down.’ Orwell immediately turned to the Independent Labour Party which was offering support to the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM)—a small, anti-Stalinist party based mainly in Catalonia in northeast Spain. But once he arrived in Spain and became overwhelmed with the revolutionary spirit he witnessed there, Orwell dropped his idea of reporting and resolved on fighting for the Republican side along with the POUM militiamen. His experiences in Spain until he fled (along with his new wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, who had come to support him on the frontline) for his life in June 1937 formed the basis for Homage to Catalonia.

Orwell planned to write ‘the truth about what I have seen’ (Crick 1980: 339n) for his normal publisher, Victor Gollancz. Back in England he had found that many of those men he had been fighting alongside ‘were being...

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