Why Orwell Matters

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9780465030491: Why Orwell Matters

Hitchens on Orwell:This is not a biography, but I sometimes feel as if George Orwell requires extricating from a pile of saccharine tablets and moist hankies; an object of sickly veneration and sentimental overpraise, employed to stultify schoolchildren with his insufferable rightness and purity. This kind of tribute is often of the Rochefoucauldian type; suggestive of the payoff made by vice to virtue, and also of the tricks played by an uneasy conscience.What [Orwell] illustrates, by his commitment to language as the partner of truth, is that "views" do not really count; that it matters not what you think, but how you think, and that politics are relatively unimportant, while principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them.Others on Hitchens:"I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delphino. I have decided to name Christopher Hitchens."-Gore Vidal"Christopher Hitchens's writing has sweep and flair. He is accurate where others are merely dutiful, unpredictable where the tendency is to go for the cliché. In short, brilliant."-Edward W. Said"May his targets cower." -Susan Sontag

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About the Author :

Christopher Hitchens is a popular columnist for Vanity Fair and The Nation. His books include Letters to a Young Contrarian, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere, No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family, The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice, and For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From Publishers Weekly :

Vanity Fair and Nation contributor Hitchens passionately defends a great writer from attacks by both right and left, though he also refutes those fans who proclaim his sainthood. George Orwell (1903-1950), a socialist who abhorred all forms of totalitarianism, was, as Hitchens points out, prescient about the "three great subjects of the twentieth century:" imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. In all things, Orwell's feelings were every bit as visceral as intellectual, and Hitchens devotes some of his best writing to describing Orwell's first-hand experiences with empire in Burma. It was there that he learned to hate racism, bullying and exploitation of the lower classes. "Orwell can be read," notes Hitchens, "as one of the founders of... post-colonialism." Orwell's insights about fascism and Stalinism crystallized in Spain, while he was fighting in the Civil War. Hitchens offers an excellent analysis of the writer's women, both real (his wives) and fictional, to show that the feminist critique of Orwell (that he didn't like strong, brainy women) may be unfair, though Hitchens also points out what feminists have ignored: Orwell's "revulsion for birth control and abortion." Hitchens brilliantly marshals his deep knowledge of Orwell's work. Fans of Orwell will enjoy Hitchens's learned and convincing defense, while those unfamiliar with Orwell may perhaps be induced to return to the source. (Oct.) Forecast: Hitchens has made a splash with recent books (Letters to a Young Contrarian and The Trial of Henry Kissinger). Basic is banking on similar success with a 30,000 first printing.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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