Eric Arthur Blair, also known as George Orwell, was a novellist and a critic, "famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949)." (Britannica. 2013).
Orwell was born on June 25th, 1903, in Motihari, India. (George Orwell. 2003). He was raised in a low-income family, and struggled to receive education. (Britannica. 2013). In 1911, he was sent to a preparatory boarding school, where he excelled in his academics. (George Orwell. 2003). However, being distinguished by his poverty, Orwell was said to have suffered from a low social standings, which "fostered his keen sensitivity to social victimization." (2003).
Indian Imperial Police and Experience in Burma
Orwell working as an Indian Imperial Police in Burma
Orwell soon received a scholarship and applied to the Eton College in England in 1917. (Britannica. 2013). It was at this point where he began to publish some of his very first writings. (2013). In 1921, he left the college and went to become an Indian Imperial Police, believing that he should follow family traditions. (2013). Being sent to Burma, Orwell "encountered the harsh realities of colonial rule", and seeing the ill-treatment the Burmese were suffering under British rulings, he felt guilty and eventually resigned from his post in 1928. (Wikipedia. 2013). By then, he had already embarked on his career as a writer, and used his experiences as an imperial police for the basis of his writing. (George Orwell. 2003).
Early Years as a Novelist
Down and Out in Paris and England Feeling guilty towards his experience in Burma, Orwell spent a year-long period living in poverty in the slums of Paris and England. (Britannica. 2013). He felt that "he could expiate some of his guilt by immersing himself in the life of the poor and outcast people of Europe." (2013). Orwell was claimed of sleeping in slums, working as a dishwasher in nearby restaurants. (Wikipedia. 2013). He was reportedly ill, and had his money stolen from him. (2013). Using this material, he later published the novel Down and Out in Paris and England in 1933. The novel illustrates his actual experiences under self-exposed poverty in England and Paris, advocating the hardships people face. (Corbett. 2002)
Burmese Days In 1934, Orwell published his novel Burmese Days. The novel recounts his experiences as an Indian Imperial Officer, and illustrates Britain's colonialism in Burma. (BBC. n.d.).
The Road to Wigan Pier Following Orwell's experience in poverty, he was suggested to investigate the economic depression in Northern England. (Wikipedia. 2013). Setting off in 1936, Orwell began to observe the social conditions in Manchester and other parts of Northern England. (2013). As a result, he published the novel The Road to Wigan Pier in 1937. (George Orwell. 2003). The novel initially illustrates the working conditions of unemployed people, and gradually leads into Orwell's views upon political conscience. (Kollar. n.d.). Although the novel is said to also criticize left-wing groups, a preface was later added to the novel to resolve the issue. (Wikipedia. 2013).
Other Publications As part of a BBC news magazine, Orwell also published a number of essays, such as Shooting an Elephant and A Hanging. (Britannica. 2013). In 1940, he also wrote about his childhood in the essay Such, Such were Joys. (BBC. n.d.). However, it was not publicized until 1952. (George Orwell. 2003).
Spanish Civil War and Animal Farm
George Orwell and the POUM
Originally considering himself as an anarchist in 1920, Orwell gradually began to see himself more as a socialist by the late 1930s. (BBC. n.d.). In 1936, he was sent to Spain to write a report based on the Spanish Civil War - a war which took place between the Republicans and Franco Nationalists. (Wikipedia. 2013). Joining the Worker's Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), Orwell fought in the war and was shot in the throat. (Britannica. 2013). He was also "forced to flee in fear of his life from Soviet-backed communists who were suppressing revolutionary socialist dissenters", which was under Stalin's totalitarian regime. (BBC. n.d.). Orwell, who was declared medically unfit for service, was sent to receive medical treatment in 1937. (Wikipedia. 2013). In June, the POUM was outlawed and under attack by Soviet Communists. (2013). Members of the POUM were kidnapped and sent to Stalin's Purge Trials, most of whom were killed and deported. (Britannica. 2013). Orwell and his wife escaped Spain in the same year, and returned to England in July, 1937. (2013). By then, Orwell was considered an anti-Stalinist, and advocated his thoughts from his books. (BBC. n.d.).
Upon his return, Orwell wrote his novel Homage to Catalonia in 1938, accounting his experiences in and out of the war, and criticizes Communism in Spain. (Britannica. 2013). However, the novel was not published until five years after Orwell's death. (2013).
Orwell taking part in the BBC Radio Broadcast during WWII
After writing the novel, Orwell decided to join Britain in World War II, in hopes that he could promote socialism. (Wikipedia. 2013). However, due to his medical condition from the Spanish Civil War, his request was rejected. (2013). However, Orwell continued to contribute to the war by participating in BBC radio programs in 1941. (BBC. n.d.). He was later hired as the editor of the Tribune, a BBC newspaper which allowed Orwell to express his views upon socialism. (n.d.). On the other hand, his anti-Stalinism still remained. As quoted from his wartime diaries in 1941:
"One could not have a better example of the moral and emotional shallowness of our time, than the fact that we are now all more or less pro-Stalin. This disgusting murderer is temporarily on our side, and so the purges, etc., are suddenly forgotten."
— George Orwell, 3 July 1941 (Orwell. 2000).
Following this incident, Orwell wrote one of his most famous novels, Animal Farm. The novel aims to criticize the totalitarian regime Stalin enforced, and states how he has corrupted the ideas of socialism. (BBC. n.d.) As mentioned in his preface of the novel, he criticizes "how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries." (Orwellweb.com. n.d.) However, the preface was never published, due to claims that it was offending Soviet Russia. The novel was eventually published in 1945, and was considered on of Orwell's most famous novels, and "ensured he was financially comfortable for the first time in his life." (BBC. n.d.).
George Orwell's Grave Stone
Orwell was found diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of 44. (BBC. n.d.). Shortly after writing the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, Orwell died from the disease on January 21st, 1950, at the age of 46. (Britannica. 2013).
Tying it Back to the Novel
From the information that was provided, we see how Orwell's main intention was to criticize Stalin for corrupting the socialist ideology, and comment on the flaws of his totalitarian regime. Based on this, feel free to explore the pages regarding the characters, events and systems. Read the novels yourselves and see how Orwell has managed to bring out this message. If you have already read all the pages, go back and read it again. From the information Orwell has presented to us, we can hopefully identify a vast range of examples to support his case. Feel free to click on the links provided below, or click on the links located at the top of the page.
Orwell's intentional use of particular characters have portrayed aspects of people in the Russian Revolution. Doing so has allowed him to criticize them and advocate his views upon them.
By illustrating events in a particular manner, Orwell connects it with events during and after the Russian Revolution. The events he uses further allows him to characterize particular animals and people in the novel, making his message more clear.
In the novel, Orwell has exemplified a number of governmental systems that were also evident during and after the Russian Revolution. Portraying aspects of these systems has further brought out his intentions and aims for writing this novel.
BBC. (n.d.). George Orwell (1903 - 1950). Retrieved March 26, 2013, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/orwell_george.shtml
BrainyQuote. (n.d.) In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgeorwe136282.html#kzwOw79fqeZmtj4b.99
Corbett, B. (2002). Down and Out in Paris and London. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/personal/reading/orwell-down.html
Encyclopedia Britannica. (2013). George Orwell. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/433643/George-Orwell
Kollar, M. (n.d.). Work : Summaries & Interpretations : Road to Wigan Pier. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from http://www.k- 1.com/Orwell/site/work/summaries/rtwp.html
Orwell, G., Davidson, P. K., Angus, Ian., & Davison, Shella. (2000). A Patriot After All: 1940-1941. London: Secker & Warburg
Orwellweb.com. (n.d.) Preface to the Ukrainian Edition of Animal Farm. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/articles/ukrainian-af-pref.htm
UXL Biographies. (2003). George Orwell. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/suic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow? failOver&query=&prodId=SUIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view &displayGroupName=Reference&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=true&display Groups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activity&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ2108101745
Wikipedia. (2013, April 7). George Orwell. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell