Collected together for the first time, this volume includes the complete text of THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER - Orwell's vivid and impassioned documentary of unemployment and proletarian life - as well as Orwell's best writing on the political and social condition of England.
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.
In this provocative study, Dana Cairns Watson traces Gertrude Stein's growing fascination with the cognitive and political ramifications of conversation and how that interest influenced her writing over the course of her career. No book in recent decades has illuminated so many of Stein's works so extensively--from the early fiction of The Making of Americans to the poetry of Tender Buttons to her opera libretto The Mother of Us All. Seeking to sustain Stein's lively, pleasant, populist spirit, Watson shows how the writer's playful entanglement of sight and sound--of silent reading and social speaking--reveals the crucial ambiguity by which reading and conversation build communities of meaning, and thus form not only personal relationships but also our very selves and the larger political structures we inhabit. Stein reminds us that the residual properties of words and the implications behind the give-and-take of ordinary conversation offer alternatives to linear structures of social order, alternatives especially precious in times of political oppression. For example, her novels Mrs. Reynolds and Brewsie and Willie, both written in embattled Vichy France, contemplate the speech patterns of totalitarian leaders and the ways in which everyday discourse might capitulate to--or resist--such verbal tyranny. Like recent theorists, Stein recognized the repressiveness of conventional order--carried in language and thus in thought and social organization--but as Cairns Watson persuasively shows, she also insisted that the free will of individuals can persist in language and enable change. In the play of literary aesthetics, Stein saw a liberating force.
An important contribution to the understanding of George Orwell's thought, particularly to Nineteen Eighty Four. The author challenges the view of the novel as a flawed work of crushing pessimism, arguing convincingly that it is a great humanist's mature vision of his deeply troubled times.