George Orwell the Essayist
Literature, Politics and the Periodical CultureBook - 2011
George Orwell is acclaimed as one of English literature's great essayists. Yet, while many are considered classics, as a body of work his essays have been neglected. Peter Marks provides the first sustained study of Orwell the essayist, giving these compelling pieces the critical attention they merit.
Orwell employed the essay as a tool to entertain, illuminate and provoke readers across an array of topics. Marks situates the essays in their original contexts, exploring how journals influenced the type of essay Orwell wrote. Acknowledging this periodical culture helps explain the tactics Orwell employed, the topics he chose and the audiences he addressed. Orwell's first and last published works were essays, providing evidence of the development of his cultural and political views over two decades. Essays helped him fashion his distinctive literary 'voice' and Mark traces how their afterlife contributes to Orwell's posthumous reputation. Arguing the essays are central to Orwell's enduring literary, political and cultural value, Marks shows how we understand the complexities, subtleties, and contradictions of Orwell better when we understand his essays.