Jonathan Rodden, The Unexamined Orwell

Debunking the Orwell myths

Adam Kirsch reviews Jonathan Rodden's collection of essays, The Unexamined Orwell for The Barnes & Noble Review: 'just about the last word you could apply to the man born Eric Blair is "unexamined." He is the subject of numerous biographies and studies, and one of the rare twentieth-century authors to have been honored with a full-dress Collected Works -- a twenty-two-volume set. Of course, Rodden, who is the author of several books about Orwell's work and influence, knows this perfectly well. What he objects to is the way Orwell is too often replaced in the public imagination by " 'Orwell,' the myth, not the man or the writer" -- the image Rodden also refers to as "St. George." The purpose of this collection of essays is not so much to debunk the Orwell legend as to offer "fresh perspectives on him and his work, either by challenging broadly accepted appraisals of his achievement or pursuing new lines of inquiry about it."' [Read More]

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