Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays

George Orwell, Author, George Packer, Compiled by
George Orwell, Author, George Packer, Compiled by , compiled and with an intro. by George Packer. Harcourt $25 (308p) ISBN 978-0-15-101361-6
Reviewed on: 08/25/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-0-436-20538-5
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-15-603313-8
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-547-41776-9
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In editing these two volumes, George Packer reminds us that the author of the novel 1984 wrote brilliant essays.

Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays George Orwell , compiled and with an intro. by George Packer. Harcourt , $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-15-101361-6

Best known for his late-career classics Animal Farm and 1984 , George Orwell—who used his given name, Eric Blair, in the earliest pieces of this collection aimed at the aficionado as well as the general reader—was above all a polemicist of the first rank. Organized chronologically, from 1931 through the late 1940s, these in-your-face writings showcase the power of this literary form. The range of subjects is considerable, from “Shooting an Elephant” to remembrances of working in a bookshop (“The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence...”); from recollections of fighting in the Spanish Civil War to culinary oddities such as a “Defence of English Cooking” and “A Nice Cup of Tea”; to the broad-stroke masterwork of boarding-school irony, “Such, Such Were the Joys.” New Yorker contributor Packer (The Assassins’ Gate ) keenly assembles and introduces this selection, bringing into high relief Orwell’s range of experience and committed humanism, showing how, as Orwell put it, “to make political writing into an art.” (Oct. 13)

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