George Orwell

Gordon Bowker, Author Abacus (UK) $16 (495p) ISBN 978-0-349-11551-1
George Orwell entered the world as Eric Blair, a man whose eventual decision to hide behind a pseudonym created a double life between the private ""Blair"" and the public ""Orwell."" So theorizes Bowker in this detailed political and psychological portrait of the British writer whose most famous creation, 1984's ""Big Brother,"" has become nearly synonymous with the inability to hide in modern society. Orwell took the pseudonym upon the 1933 publication of Down and Out in Paris and London, and cemented its use when producing broadcasts to India for the BBC Empire Service during World War II. This work would provide much of the inspiration for 1984's language of control and manipulation: the censorious BBC bureaucracy became ""the Ministry of Truth,"" and the Nazi and Soviet propaganda transmissions the BBC monitored spawned ""Newspeak"" and ""Doublethink."" Bowker connects Orwell's experiences to nearly all of his writings, but he also focuses on lesser-known personal details, including frequent respiratory illness (later revealed as Tuberculosis) and the seduction of numerous women. But the side of Orwell that emerges most forcefully here is of the writer with ""the kestrel-eye view of political systems"" who felt the necessity to ""point to the great threat of politics and science devoid of morality"" and who related this view to the defining moments of the 20th Century: Communism, Hitler, World War II and the Cold War. While Bowker's book might enthrall only the most dedicated reader, the frequent appearances in today's news of the terms ""Big Brother"" and ""Orwellian"" makes his study a relevant read. Photos.
Reviewed on: 04/01/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Hardcover - 495 pages - 978-0-316-86115-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-84197-937-3
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-1-4055-2805-4
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