On Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Biography

D.J. Taylor. Abrams, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3800-5
Taylor (Orwell: A Life) delivers a second George Orwell “biography,” in this case tracing the “life” of the author’s most famous novel, 1984. In discussing the book’s genesis, Taylor suggests that Orwell’s public school experiences, as related in his essay “Such, Such Were the Joys,” gave him an early taste of repressive regimes. Orwell himself pointed to the 1943 Tehran Conference—in which Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt met to “carve up” the post-WWII world—as providing initial inspiration for his dystopian future. Most compelling is Taylor’s account of Orwell’s unusual (for him) struggle to complete the novel, while wracked by tuberculosis and holed up in a remote village in the Inner Hebrides. Taylor vividly evokes the image of a tubercular Orwell hunched in bed, laboriously typing out a fair copy of the manuscript for his publisher, while the Atlantic rages outside his window. Less thorough on the book’s post-publication life, Taylor does convey the trouble to which Orwell went, mostly fruitlessly, to prevent the book’s political misappropriation by both left and right. Unfortunately, 1984’s influence far exceeds the capacity this slender volume can capture, but Taylor has nevertheless crafted a gripping portrait of the creation of an essential novel. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/10/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-4197-4764-9
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