ried to enlist in the British Army in 1939 on the outbreak of war. He subsequently served in the Home Guard, worked in the B.B.C. and became Literary Editor of Tribune. Coming up for Air was written immediately before the war, prophesying the war, and Inside the Whale and The Lion and the Unicorn followed in wartime. Just after the war ended and as Orwell rounded off a stint as Observer war correspondent in Europe, Animal Farm, that outstanding political satire against tyranny in general and the Stalinist betrayal of the Revolution in particular, was published and he began work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Thanks to the money earned by the book in America Orwell found himself for the first time in his life, free from money worries, able to live on the island of Jura off the West of Scotland and to drop much of his journalistic work to concentrate on his book and a few last essays. But his health deteriorated progressively and seven months after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four he died in 1950 at the age of 46.
George Orwell: The Complete Novels
Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there. At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air.
During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC
Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm, was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.
George Orwell died in London in January 1950. A few days before, Desmond MacCarthy had sent him a message of greeting in which he wrote: 'You have made an indelible mark on English literature... you are among the few memorable writers of your generation.'
The Complete Novels
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Animal Farm first published in Great Britain by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1945
Published in Penguin Books 1951
Copyright 1945 by Eric Blair
Burmese Days first published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz 1935
Published in Penguin Books 1944
This edition published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1949
Published in Penguin Books 1967
Copyright 1934 by Eric Blair
A Clergyman's Daughter first published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz 1935
Published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1960
Published in Penguin Books 1964
Copyright 1935 by Eric Blair
Coming up for Air first published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz 1939
Published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1954
Published in Penguin Books 1962
Copyright 1939 by Eric Blair
Keep the Aspidistra Flying first published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz 1936
Published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1954
Published in Penguin Books 1962
Copyright 1936 by Eric Blair
Nineteen Eighty-four first published in Great Britain by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1949
Published in Penguin Books 1954
Copyright 1949 by Eric Blair
This edition first published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd in association with Octopus Books Ltd 1976
Published in Penguin Books 1983
Reprinted in Penguin Classics 2000
Copyright (c) The Estate of Eric Blair, 1976, 1983
All rights reserved
Readers should note that the authoritative texts of these and other works by Orwell, as published in
Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd's Complete Works of George Orwell series, are available in
single-volume editions in Penguin
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A CLERGYMAN'S DAUGHTER
COMING UP FOR AIR
KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING
The novels of George Orwell, like his great essays, reflect, as in a mirror, constantly crystal-clear and frequently sharp with menace, the extensive changes of outlook and the shifts of values in British and indeed much of human society in the first half of the twentieth century.
Orwell was born Eric Blair in 1903 in an India that still seemed firmly fixed in an immutable Empire on which the sun never set. He attended Eton, his first publication was a patriotic poem printed by a provincial newspaper during the 1914-18 war, and in 1922 he joined the Indian Imperial Police and served in Burma for the next five years. On leave to England in 1927 he decided not to return to the Far East and resigned. From that time his life, until then seemingly cast in an upper middle-class mould and pointing towards a conventional career in Imperial service, took an entirely fresh course. Determined to become a writer, he lived in a succession of mean rooms on next to nothing in London and Paris, and it was in the latter city that his first article as a professional writer was published. He worked there as a kitchen porter in a luxury hotel and tramped and picked hops in Kent, later both conjured up so vividly in Down and Out in Paris and London. During this time, 1930-33, Orwell picked up a meagre living as well as he could, whether by reviewing or teaching, and he continued to write Burmese Days, completing it before going down with a bout of recurrent pneumonia. When the book came out in the U.S.A. (as no English publisher had bought it) Orwell had taken a job as a part-time assistant in a London bookshop. Burmese Days eventually appeared in England, a few months after A Clergyman's Daughter came out in 1935. Early in the following year Orwell was reviewing fiction for the New English Weekly and was also gathering material for a book on the depressed areas of the industrial North of England, The Road to Wigan Pier.
When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, Orwell foresaw the importance of its outcome to the future of Europe and before the year ended he had enlisted in Barcelona. While in the front line as a Republican militiaman with the P.O.U.M., the anarchists and the Trotskyites, he was shot in the throat by a sniper. He survived and returned to England to write one of the most forthright and fearless books on the Spanish struggle, Homage to Catalonia, which came out in April 1938, one of the first books to denounce the Communists for exploiting the struggle for their own ends. He was repeatedly rejected on medical grounds when he t
George Orwell holds a unique place in contemporary English literature. He used facts and his own observation and when there was no actual reporting to be done, invention took over, as in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and his clear vision, realistic deduction and profound understanding of human behaviour enabled him to reach the inner recesses of the reader's mind and startle him to reflection and self-examination. He said that one of his motive's for writing was a 'desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity... In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books... When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself "I am going to produce a work of art." I write it because there is some lie I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.'
George Orwell certainly got his hearing and a constantly-increasing worldwide audience. Honesty, vigour and relevance to today are present in all these novels. Read any newspaper and Animal Farm is never far away and Nineteen Eighty-Four remains as true a description of the abuse of power as when he wrote it.
A FAIRY STORY
Mr Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicking off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs Jones was already snoring.
As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was a stirring and a fluttering all through the farm buildings. Word had gone round during the day that old Major, the prize Middle White boar, had had a strange dream on the previous night and wished to communicate it to the other animals. It had been agreed that they should all meet in the big barn as soon as Mr Jones was safely out of the way. Old Major (so he was always called, though the name under which he had been exhibited was Willingdon Beauty) was so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose an hour's sleep in order to hear what he had to say.
At one end of the big barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was already ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a beam. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut. Before long the other animals began to arrive and make themselves comfortable after their different fashions. First came the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher, and then the pigs who settled down in the straw immediately in front of the platform. The hens perched themselves on the window-sills, the pigeons fluttered up to the rafters, the sheep and cows lay down behind the pigs and began to chew the cud. The two cart-horses, Boxer and Clover, came in together, walking very slowly and setting down their vast hairy hoofs with great care lest there should be some small animal concealed in the straw. Clover was a stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal. Boxer was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work. After the horses came Muriel, the white goat, and Benjamin, the donkey. Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did it was usually to make some cynical remark-for instance, he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies. Alone among the animals on the farm he never laughed. If asked why, he would say that he saw nothing to laugh at. Nevertheless, without openly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer; the two of them usually spent their Sundays together in the small paddock beyond the orchard, grazing side by side and never speaking.
The two horses had just lain down when a brood of ducklings, which had lost their mother, filed into the barn, cheeping feebly and wandering from side to side to find some place where they would not be trodden on. Clover made a sort of wall round them with her great foreleg, and the ducklings nestled down inside it, and promptly fell asleep. At the last moment Mollie, the foolish, pretty white mare who drew Mr Jones's trap, came mincing daintily in, chewing at a lump of sugar. She took a place near the front and began flirting her white mane, hoping to draw attention to the red ribbons it was plaited with. Last of all came the cat, who looked round, as usual, for the warmest place, and finally squeezed herself in between Boxer and Clover; there she purred contentedly throughout Major's speech without listening to a word of what he was saying.
All the animals were now present except Moses, the tame raven, who slept on a perch behind the back door. When Major saw that they had all made themselves comfortable and were waiting attentively, he cleared his throat and began:
'Comrades, you have heard already about the strange dream that I had last night. But I will come to the dream later. I have something else to say first. I do not think, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer, and before I die, I feel it my duty to pass on to you such wisdom as I have acquired. I have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you.
'Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.
'But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it? No, comrades, a thousand times no! The soil of England is fertile, its climate is good, it is capable of affording food in abundance to an enormously greater number of animals than now inhabit it. This single farm of ours would support a dozen horses, twenty cows, hundreds of sheep-and all of them living in a comfort and a dignity that are now almost beyond our imagining. Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up in a single word-Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.
'Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them
the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilizes it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin. You cows that I see before me, how many thousands of gallons of milk have you given during this last year? And what has happened to that milk which should have been breeding up sturdy calves? Every drop of it has gone down the throats of our enemies. And you hens, how many eggs have you laid this year, and how many of those eggs ever hatched into chickens? The rest have all gone to market to bring in money for Jones and his men. And you, Clover, where are those four foals you bore, who should have been the support and pleasure of your old age? Each was sold at a year old-you will never see one of them again. In return for your four confinements and all your labour in the field, what have you ever had except your bare rations and a stall?
'And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their natural span. For myself I do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones. I am twelve years old and have had over four hundred children. Such is the natural life of a pig. But no animal escapes the cruel knife in the end. You young porkers who are sitting in front of me, every one of you will scream your lives out at the block within a year. To that horror we all must come-cows, pigs, hens, sheep, everyone. Even the horses and the dogs have no better fate. You, Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker, who will cut your throat and boil you down for the fox-hounds. As for the dogs, when they grow old and toothless, Jones ties a brick round their necks and drowns them in the nearest pond.
'Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion! I do not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done. Fix your eyes on that, comrades, throughout the short remainder of your lives! And above all, pass on this message of mine to those who come after you, so that future generations shall carry on the struggle until it is victorious.