Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Classics Challenge

As part of my participation in the 2012 Classics Challenge, the host will be asking for a post each month based on a guided topic or questions. Here is the link to the first challenge: The Author.

I am reading Animal Farm by George Orwell as my first classic for the year. Luckily, the edition of Animal Farm that I have chosen has notes on the text in the front, so I have a lot of information on George Orwell already to answer the questions posed.  I also utilised Wikipedia.
   'George Orwell' is in fact the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, born in 1903 in India. His father was working in the civil service, and moved the family back to England in 1907. Eric won a place as a King's Scholar at Eton in 1917, where he remained until December 1921. He then joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma until 1927, when he contracted dengue fever and moved back to England. He lived for a time in England, then Paris, then back to London. He died aged 46, after various medical complications during his life.
   Although best known in England for his journalism, essays, reviews and columns in newspapers and magazines, he also wrote the following novels and narrative documentaries:

  • 1933 - Down and Out in Paris and London
  • 1934 - Burmese Days
  • 1935 - the Clergyman's Daughter
  • 1936 - Keep the Aspidistra Flying
  • 1937 - The Road to Wigan Pier
  • 1938 - Road to Catalonia 
  • 1939 - Coming Up For Air
  • 1945 - Animal Farm
  • 1949 - Nineteen Eighty-Four
Eric liked to stir and provoke argument. He is widely remembered as being a socialist, but his political views actual swung a lot over his lifetime. He proclaimed himself an anarchist at one point. He was anti-Stalin, supported the war against Nazi Germany, opposed British imperialism, opposed the Anglo-Soviet alliance, and was highly critical of governments generally.
   Apparently, the British intelligence group, MI5, monitored Eric for about 20 years for his "advanced Communist views".


  1. Not familiar with this challenge, but I'll check it out. Doubt I'll have time to participate, but I'll enjoy reading entries! I loved Animal Farm and I should read it again :-)

  2. WOW--I've read Animal Farm but didn't realize he was a socialist, and monitored by M15!

  3. I like the name Eric more than George. He was born the same year as my grandfather.

  4. Haven't read him yet. I didn't know he wrote under a pen name nor he was so political and died so young. Thank you for your post, Jacqui! :)

  5. I want to read Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four again. I think I'll get more out of these books a second time round, and with an old her head.

  6. I read 1984 a few years ago, and thought he was inclined to socialism by the text. I actually read it the summer I read Wild Swans by Jung Chang and together they were an eye opener on what dictatorships are like. I'm not surprised that he was monitored, seeing as anyone back then who thought outside capitalism was a target.

  7. I did not realize that he died so young, and it must have been soon after writing 1984. I've read 1984 a couple of times, and Animal Farm once, but I'd love to read some of those other things he wrote.

  8. 1984 is one of my favourite books and I've read Animal Farm many times. There's a very good animated film based on the book. I saw that as a child - it was shown as a children's movie for some reason, probably because it's animated - and I dreamed about the scene when Boxer is taken away by the knacker for days.