George Orwell — Videos

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George Orwell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Orwell
A photo showing the head and shoulders of a middle-aged man with black hair and a slim moustache.

Orwell’s press card portrait, 1943
Born Eric Arthur Blair
25 June 1903
Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now East Champaran, Bihar, India)
Died 21 January 1950 (aged 46)
University College Hospital, London, England, United Kingdom
Resting place Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Pen name George Orwell
Occupation Novelist, essayist, journalist, critic
Alma mater Eton College
Genre Dystopia, roman à clef, satire
Subject Anti-fascism, anti-Stalinism, democratic socialism, literary criticism, news, polemic
Notable works Animal Farm
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Years active 1928–1950
Spouse Eileen O’Shaughnessy
(m. 1935; her death 1945)
Sonia Brownell
(m. 1949; his death 1950)

Signature Eric Blair ("George Orwell")

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950),[1] better known by the pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.[2][3]

Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed, as are his essays on politics, literature, language, and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.[4]

Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian – descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices – has entered the language together with many of his neologisms, including cold war, Big Brother, Thought Police, Room 101, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, and thoughtcrime.[5]

Contents

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Life

Early years

Blair family home at Shiplake, Oxfordshire

Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903, in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day Bihar), in British India.[6] His great-grandfather Charles Blair was a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset who married Lady Mary Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, and had income as an absentee landlord of plantations in Jamaica.[7] His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman.[8] Although the gentility passed down the generations, the prosperity did not; Eric Blair described his family as “lower-upper-middle class“.[9] His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service.[10] His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Moulmein, Burma, where her French father was involved in speculative ventures.[7] Eric had two sisters: Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and his sister to England.[11][n 1] His birthplace and ancestral house in Motihari has been declared a protected monument of historical importance.[12]

In 1904, Ida Blair settled with her children at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Eric was brought up in the company of his mother and sisters, and apart from a brief visit in mid-1907,[13] they did not see the husband and father Richard Blair until 1912.[8] His mother’s diary from 1905 describes a lively round of social activity and artistic interests.

Before the First World War, the family moved to Shiplake, Oxfordshire where Eric became friendly with the Buddicom family, especially their daughter Jacintha. When they first met, he was standing on his head in a field. On being asked why, he said, “You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up.”[14] Jacintha and Eric read and wrote poetry, and dreamed of becoming famous writers. He said that he might write a book in the style of H. G. Wells‘s A Modern Utopia. During this period, he also enjoyed shooting, fishing and birdwatching with Jacintha’s brother and sister.[14]

Playing fields at St. Cyprian’s. Blair’s time at the school inspired his essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“.

At the age of five, Eric was sent as a day-boy to a convent school in Henley-on-Thames, which Marjorie also attended. It was a Roman Catholic convent run by French Ursuline nuns, who had been exiled from France after religious education was banned in 1903.[15] His mother wanted him to have a public school education, but his family could not afford the fees, and he needed to earn a scholarship. Ida Blair’s brother Charles Limouzin recommended St Cyprian’s School, Eastbourne, East Sussex.[8] Limouzin, who was a proficient golfer, knew of the school and its headmaster through the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club, where he won several competitions in 1903 and 1904.[16] The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win a scholarship, and made a private financial arrangement that allowed Blair’s parents to pay only half the normal fees. In September 1911 Eric arrived at St Cyprian’s. He boarded at the school for the next five years, returning home only for school holidays. He knew nothing of the reduced fees, although he “soon recognised that he was from a poorer home”.[17] Blair hated the school[18] and many years later wrote an essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“, published posthumously, based on his time there. At St. Cyprian’s, Blair first met Cyril Connolly, who became a writer. Many years later, as the editor of Horizon, Connolly published several of Orwell’s essays.

While at St Cyprian’s, Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard.[19][20] He came second to Connolly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school’s external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton. But inclusion on the Eton scholarship roll did not guarantee a place, and none was immediately available for Blair. He chose to stay at St Cyprian’s until December 1916, in case a place at Eton became available.[8]

In January, Blair took up the place at Wellington, where he spent the Spring term. In May 1917 a place became available as a King’s Scholar at Eton. He remained at Eton until December 1921, when he left midway between his 18th and 19th birthday. Wellington was “beastly”, Orwell told his childhood friend Jacintha Buddicom, but he said he was “interested and happy” at Eton.[21] His principal tutor was A. S. F. Gow, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who also gave him advice later in his career.[8] Blair was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley. Stephen Runciman, who was at Eton with Blair, noted that he and his contemporaries appreciated Huxley’s linguistic flair.[22] Cyril Connolly followed Blair to Eton, but because they were in separate years, they did not associate with each other.[23]

Blair’s academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies,[22] but during his time at Eton he worked with Roger Mynors to produce a College magazine, The Election Times, joined in the production of other publications – College Days and Bubble and Squeak – and participated in the Eton Wall Game. His parents could not afford to send him to a university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be able to win one. Runciman noted that he had a romantic idea about the East,[22] and the family decided that Blair should join the Imperial Police, the precursor of the Indian Police Service. For this he had to pass an entrance examination. His father had retired to Southwold, Suffolk, by this time; Blair was enrolled at a crammer there called Craighurst, and brushed up on his Classics, English, and History. He passed the entrance exam, coming seventh out of the 26 candidates who exceeded the pass mark.[8][24]

Policing in Burma

Blair pictured in a passport photo during his Burma years

Blair’s maternal grandmother lived at Moulmein, so he chose a posting in Burma. In October 1922 he sailed on board SS Herefordshire via the Suez Canal and Ceylon to join the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. A month later, he arrived at Rangoon and travelled to the police training school in Mandalay. After a short posting at Maymyo, Burma’s principal hill station, he was posted to the frontier outpost of Myaungmya in the Irrawaddy Delta at the beginning of 1924.

Working as an imperial policeman gave him considerable responsibility while most of his contemporaries were still at university in England. When he was posted farther east in the Delta to Twante as a sub-divisional officer, he was responsible for the security of some 200,000 people. At the end of 1924, he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syriam, closer to Rangoon. Syriam had the refinery of the Burmah Oil Company, “the surrounding land a barren waste, all vegetation killed off by the fumes of sulphur dioxide pouring out day and night from the stacks of the refinery.” But the town was near Rangoon, a cosmopolitan seaport, and Blair went into the city as often as he could, “to browse in a bookshop; to eat well-cooked food; to get away from the boring routine of police life”.[25] In September 1925 he went to Insein, the home of Insein Prison, the second largest jail in Burma. In Insein, he had “long talks on every conceivable subject” with Elisa Maria Langford-Rae (who later married Kazi Lhendup Dorjee). She noted his “sense of utter fairness in minutest details”.[26]

British Club in Katha (in Orwell’s time, it occupied only the ground floor)

In April 1926 he moved to Moulmein, where his maternal grandmother lived. At the end of that year, he was assigned to Katha in Upper Burma, where he contracted dengue fever in 1927. Entitled to a leave in England that year, he was allowed to return in July due to his illness. While on leave in England and on holiday with his family in Cornwall in September 1927, he reappraised his life. Deciding against returning to Burma, he resigned from the Indian Imperial Police to become a writer. He drew on his experiences in the Burma police for the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays “A Hanging” (1931) and “Shooting an Elephant” (1936).

In Burma, Blair acquired a reputation as an outsider. He spent much of his time alone, reading or pursuing non-pukka activities, such as attending the churches of the Karen ethnic group. A colleague, Roger Beadon, recalled (in a 1969 recording for the BBC) that Blair was fast to learn the language and that before he left Burma, “was able to speak fluently with Burmese priests in ‘very high-flown Burmese.'”[27] Blair made changes to his appearance in Burma that remained for the rest of his life. “While in Burma, he acquired a moustache similar to those worn by officers of the British regiments stationed there. [He] also acquired some tattoos; on each knuckle he had a small untidy blue circle. Many Burmese living in rural areas still sport tattoos like this – they are believed to protect against bullets and snake bites.”[28] Later, he wrote that he felt guilty about his role in the work of empire and he “began to look more closely at his own country and saw that England also had its oppressed …”

London and Paris

Blair’s 1927 lodgings in Portobello Road, London

In England, he settled back in the family home at Southwold, renewing acquaintance with local friends and attending an Old Etonian dinner. He visited his old tutor Gow at Cambridge for advice on becoming a writer.[29] In 1927 he moved to London.[30] Ruth Pitter, a family acquaintance, helped him find lodgings, and by the end of 1927 he had moved into rooms in Portobello Road;[31] a blue plaque commemorates his residence there.[32] Pitter’s involvement in the move “would have lent it a reassuring respectability in Mrs Blair’s eyes.” Pitter had a sympathetic interest in Blair’s writing, pointed out weaknesses in his poetry, and advised him to write about what he knew. In fact he decided to write of “certain aspects of the present that he set out to know” and “ventured into the East End of London – the first of the occasional sorties he would make to discover for himself the world of poverty and the down-and-outers who inhabit it. He had found a subject. These sorties, explorations, expeditions, tours or immersions were made intermittently over a period of five years.”[33]

In imitation of Jack London, whose writing he admired (particularly The People of the Abyss), Blair started to explore the poorer parts of London. On his first outing he set out to Limehouse Causeway, spending his first night in a common lodging house, possibly George Levy’s ‘kip’. For a while he “went native” in his own country, dressing like a tramp, adopting the name P. S. Burton and making no concessions to middle-class mores and expectations; he recorded his experiences of the low life for use in “The Spike“, his first published essay in English, and in the second half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

Rue du Pot de Fer, on the Left Bank, in the 5th arrondissement, where Blair lived in Paris

In early 1928 he moved to Paris. He lived in the rue du Pot de Fer, a working class district in the 5th Arrondissement.[8] His aunt Nellie Limouzin also lived in Paris and gave him social and, when necessary, financial support. He began to write novels, including an early version of Burmese Days, but nothing else survives from that period.[8] He was more successful as a journalist and published articles in Monde, a political/literary journal edited by Henri Barbusse (his first article as a professional writer, “La Censure en Angleterre”, appeared in that journal on 6 October 1928); G. K.’s Weekly, where his first article to appear in England, “A Farthing Newspaper”, was printed on 29 December 1928;[34] and Le Progrès Civique (founded by the left-wing coalition Le Cartel des Gauches). Three pieces appeared in successive weeks in Le Progrès Civique: discussing unemployment, a day in the life of a tramp, and the beggars of London, respectively. “In one or another of its destructive forms, poverty was to become his obsessive subject – at the heart of almost everything he wrote until Homage to Catalonia.”[35]

He fell seriously ill in February 1929 and was taken to the Hôpital Cochin in the 14th arrondissement, a free hospital where medical students were trained. His experiences there were the basis of his essay “How the Poor Die“, published in 1946. He chose not to identify the hospital, and indeed was deliberately misleading about its location. Shortly afterwards, he had all his money stolen from his lodging house. Whether through necessity or to collect material, he undertook menial jobs like dishwashing in a fashionable hotel on the rue de Rivoli, which he later described in Down and Out in Paris and London. In August 1929, he sent a copy of “The Spike” to John Middleton Murry‘s New Adelphi magazine in London. The magazine was edited by Max Plowman and Sir Richard Rees, and Plowman accepted the work for publication.

Southwold

Southwold – North Parade

In December 1929, after nearly two years in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents’ house in Southwold, which remained his base for the next five years. The family was well established in the town and his sister Avril was running a tea-house there. He became acquainted with many local people, including Brenda Salkeld, the clergyman’s daughter who worked as a gym-teacher at St Felix Girls’ School, Southwold. Although Salkeld rejected his offer of marriage, she remained a friend and regular correspondent for many years. He also renewed friendships with older friends, such as Dennis Collings, whose girlfriend Eleanor Jacques was also to play a part in his life.[8]

In early 1930 he stayed briefly in Bramley, Leeds, with his sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey Dakin, who was as unappreciative of Blair as when they knew each other as children. Blair was writing reviews for Adelphi and acting as a private tutor to a disabled child at Southwold. He then became tutor to three young brothers, one of whom, Richard Peters, later became a distinguished academic.[36] “His history in these years is marked by dualities and contrasts. There is Blair leading a respectable, outwardly eventless life at his parents’ house in Southwold, writing; then in contrast, there is Blair as Burton (the name he used in his down-and-out episodes) in search of experience in the kips and spikes, in the East End, on the road, and in the hop fields of Kent.”[37] He went painting and bathing on the beach, and there he met Mabel and Francis Fierz, who later influenced his career. Over the next year he visited them in London, often meeting their friend Max Plowman. He also often stayed at the homes of Ruth Pitter and Richard Rees, where he could “change” for his sporadic tramping expeditions. One of his jobs was domestic work at a lodgings for half a crown (two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound) a day.[38]

Blair now contributed regularly to Adelphi, with “A Hanging” appearing in August 1931. From August to September 1931 his explorations of poverty continued, and, like the protagonist of A Clergyman’s Daughter, he followed the East End tradition of working in the Kent hop fields. He kept a diary about his experiences there. Afterwards, he lodged in the Tooley Street kip, but could not stand it for long, and with financial help from his parents moved to Windsor Street, where he stayed until Christmas. “Hop Picking”, by Eric Blair, appeared in the October 1931 issue of New Statesman, whose editorial staff included his old friend Cyril Connolly. Mabel Fierz put him in contact with Leonard Moore, who became his literary agent.

At this time Jonathan Cape rejected A Scullion’s Diary, the first version of Down and Out. On the advice of Richard Rees, he offered it to Faber and Faber, but their editorial director, T. S. Eliot, also rejected it. Blair ended the year by deliberately getting himself arrested,[39] so that he could experience Christmas in prison, but the authorities did not regard his “drunk and disorderly” behaviour as imprisonable, and he returned home to Southwold after two days in a police cell.

Teaching career

In April 1932 Blair became a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, a school for boys in Hayes, West London. This was a small school offering private schooling for children of local tradesmen and shopkeepers, and had only 14 or 16 boys aged between ten and sixteen, and one other master.[40] While at the school he became friendly with the curate of the local parish church and became involved with activities there. Mabel Fierz had pursued matters with Moore, and at the end of June 1932, Moore told Blair that Victor Gollancz was prepared to publish A Scullion’s Diary for a £40 advance, through his recently founded publishing house, Victor Gollancz Ltd, which was an outlet for radical and socialist works.

At the end of the summer term in 1932, Blair returned to Southwold, where his parents had used a legacy to buy their own home. Blair and his sister Avril spent the holidays making the house habitable while he also worked on Burmese Days.[41] He was also spending time with Eleanor Jacques, but her attachment to Dennis Collings remained an obstacle to his hopes of a more serious relationship.

The pen name “George Orwell” was inspired by the River Orwell in the English county of Suffolk[42]

“Clink”, an essay describing his failed attempt to get sent to prison, appeared in the August 1932 number of Adelphi. He returned to teaching at Hayes and prepared for the publication of his book, now known as Down and Out in Paris and London. He wished to publish under a different name to avoid any embarrassment to his family over his time as a “tramp”.[43] In a letter to Moore (dated 15 November 1932), he left the choice of pseudonym to Moore and to Gollancz. Four days later, he wrote to Moore, suggesting the pseudonyms P. S. Burton (a name he used when tramping), Kenneth Miles, George Orwell, and H. Lewis Allways.[44] He finally adopted the nom de plume George Orwell because, as he told Eleanor Jacques, “It is a good round English name.” Down and Out in Paris and London was published on 9 January 1933, as Orwell continued to work on Burmese Days. Down and Out was successful and was next published by Harper & Brothers in New York.

In mid-1933 Blair left Hawthorns to become a teacher at Frays College, in Uxbridge, Middlesex. This was a much larger establishment with 200 pupils and a full complement of staff. He acquired a motorcycle and took trips through the surrounding countryside. On one of these expeditions he became soaked and caught a chill that developed into pneumonia. He was taken to Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, where for a time his life was believed to be in danger. When he was discharged in January 1934, he returned to Southwold to convalesce and, supported by his parents, never returned to teaching.

He was disappointed when Gollancz turned down Burmese Days, mainly on the grounds of potential suits for libel, but Harper were prepared to publish it in the United States. Meanwhile, Blair started work on the novel A Clergyman’s Daughter, drawing upon his life as a teacher and on life in Southwold. Eleanor Jacques was now married and had gone to Singapore and Brenda Salkield had left for Ireland, so Blair was relatively isolated in Southwold – working on the allotments, walking alone and spending time with his father. Eventually in October, after sending A Clergyman’s Daughter to Moore, he left for London to take a job that had been found for him by his aunt Nellie Limouzin.

Hampstead

Orwell’s former home at 77 Parliament Hill, Hampstead, London

This job was as a part-time assistant in Booklovers’ Corner, a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope, who were friends of Nellie Limouzin in the Esperanto movement. The Westropes were friendly and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street. He was sharing the job with Jon Kimche, who also lived with the Westropes. Blair worked at the shop in the afternoons and had his mornings free to write and his evenings free to socialise. These experiences provided background for the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). As well as the various guests of the Westropes, he was able to enjoy the company of Richard Rees and the Adelphi writers and Mabel Fierz. The Westropes and Kimche were members of the Independent Labour Party, although at this time Blair was not seriously politically active. He was writing for the Adelphi and preparing A Clergyman’s Daughter and Burmese Days for publication.

At the beginning of 1935 he had to move out of Warwick Mansions, and Mabel Fierz found him a flat in Parliament Hill. A Clergyman’s Daughter was published on 11 March 1935. In early 1935 Blair met his future wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy, when his landlady, Rosalind Obermeyer, who was studying for a master’s degree in psychology at University College London, invited some of her fellow students to a party. One of these students, Elizaveta Fen, a biographer and future translator of Chekhov, recalled Orwell and his friend Richard Rees “draped” at the fireplace, looking, she thought, “moth-eaten and prematurely aged.”[45] Around this time, Blair had started to write reviews for the New English Weekly.

Orwell’s time as a bookseller is commemorated with this plaque in Hampstead

In June, Burmese Days was published and Cyril Connolly’s review in the New Statesman prompted Orwell (as he then became known) to re-establish contact with his old friend. In August, he moved into a flat in Kentish Town, which he shared with Michael Sayers and Rayner Heppenstall. The relationship was sometimes awkward and Orwell and Heppenstall even came to blows, though they remained friends and later worked together on BBC broadcasts.[46] Orwell was now working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and also tried unsuccessfully to write a serial for the News Chronicle. By October 1935 his flatmates had moved out and he was struggling to pay the rent on his own. He remained until the end of January 1936, when he stopped working at Booklovers’ Corner.

The Road to Wigan Pier

At this time, Victor Gollancz suggested Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England.[n 2] Two years earlier J. B. Priestley had written about England north of the Trent, sparking an interest in reportage. The depression had also introduced a number of working-class writers from the North of England to the reading public.

On 31 January 1936, Orwell set out by public transport and on foot, reaching Manchester via Coventry, Stafford, the Potteries and Macclesfield. Arriving in Manchester after the banks had closed, he had to stay in a common lodging-house. The next day he picked up a list of contacts sent by Richard Rees. One of these, the trade union official Frank Meade, suggested Wigan, where Orwell spent February staying in dirty lodgings over a tripe shop. At Wigan, he visited many homes to see how people lived, took detailed notes of housing conditions and wages earned, went down Bryn Hall coal mine, and used the local public library to consult public health records and reports on working conditions in mines.

During this time, he was distracted by concerns about style and possible libel in Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He made a quick visit to Liverpool and during March, stayed in south Yorkshire, spending time in Sheffield and Barnsley. As well as visiting mines, including Grimethorpe, and observing social conditions, he attended meetings of the Communist Party and of Oswald Mosley – “his speech the usual claptrap – The blame for everything was put upon mysterious international gangs of Jews” – where he saw the tactics of the Blackshirts – “one is liable to get both a hammering and a fine for asking a question which Mosley finds it difficult to answer.”[48] He also made visits to his sister at Headingley, during which he visited the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth, where he was “chiefly impressed by a pair of Charlotte Brontë‘s cloth-topped boots, very small, with square toes and lacing up at the sides.”[49]

A former warehouse at Wigan Pier is named after Orwell

No 2 Kits Lane, Wallington, Hertfordshire. Orwell’s residence c. 1936–1940

The result of his journeys through the north was The Road to Wigan Pier, published by Gollancz for the Left Book Club in 1937. The first half of the book documents his social investigations of Lancashire and Yorkshire, including an evocative description of working life in the coal mines. The second half is a long essay on his upbringing and the development of his political conscience, which includes an argument for Socialism (although he goes to lengths to balance the concerns and goals of Socialism with the barriers it faced from the movement’s own advocates at the time, such as ‘priggish’ and ‘dull’ Socialist intellectuals, and ‘proletarian’ Socialists with little grasp of the actual ideology). Gollancz feared the second half would offend readers and added a disculpatory preface to the book while Orwell was in Spain.

Orwell needed somewhere he could concentrate on writing his book, and once again help was provided by Aunt Nellie, who was living at Wallington, Hertfordshire in a very small 16th-century cottage called the “Stores”. Wallington was a tiny village 35 miles north of London, and the cottage had almost no modern facilities. Orwell took over the tenancy and moved in on 2 April 1936.[50] He started work on The Road to Wigan Pier by the end of April, but also spent hours working on the garden and testing the possibility of reopening the Stores as a village shop. Keep the Aspidistra Flying was published by Gollancz on 20 April 1936. On 4 August Orwell gave a talk at the Adelphi Summer School held at Langham, entitled An Outsider Sees the Distressed Areas; others who spoke at the school included John Strachey, Max Plowman, Karl Polanyi and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Orwell’s research for The Road to Wigan Pier led to him being placed under surveillance by the Special Branch from 1936, for 12 years, until one year before the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four.[51]

Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on 9 June 1936. Shortly afterwards, the political crisis began in Spain and Orwell followed developments there closely. At the end of the year, concerned by Francisco Franco‘s military uprising, (supported by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and local groups such as Falange), Orwell decided to go to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Under the erroneous impression that he needed papers from some left-wing organisation to cross the frontier, on John Strachey‘s recommendation he applied unsuccessfully to Harry Pollitt, leader of the British Communist Party. Pollitt was suspicious of Orwell’s political reliability; he asked him whether he would undertake to join the International Brigade and advised him to get a safe-conduct from the Spanish Embassy in Paris.[52] Not wishing to commit himself until he had seen the situation in situ, Orwell instead used his Independent Labour Party contacts to get a letter of introduction to John McNair in Barcelona.

The Spanish Civil War

The square in Barcelona renamed in Orwell’s honour

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December 1936, dining with Henry Miller in Paris on the way. The American writer told Orwell that going to fight in the Civil War out of some sense of obligation or guilt was ‘sheer stupidity,’ and that the Englishman’s ideas ‘about combating Fascism, defending democracy, etc., etc., were all baloney.’[53] A few days later, in Barcelona, Orwell met John McNair of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) Office who quoted him: “I’ve come to fight against Fascism”.[54] Orwell stepped into a complex political situation in Catalonia. The Republican government was supported by a number of factions with conflicting aims, including the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM – Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista), the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (a wing of the Spanish Communist Party, which was backed by Soviet arms and aid). The ILP was linked to the POUM so Orwell joined the POUM.

After a time at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona he was sent to the relatively quiet Aragon Front under Georges Kopp. By January 1937 he was at Alcubierre 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level, in the depth of winter. There was very little military action, and Orwell was shocked by the lack of munitions, food, and firewood, and other extreme deprivations.[55] Orwell, with his Cadet Corps and police training, was quickly made a corporal. On the arrival of a British ILP Contingent about three weeks later, Orwell and the other English militiaman, Williams, were sent with them to Monte Oscuro. The newly arrived ILP contingent included Bob Smillie, Bob Edwards, Stafford Cottman and Jack Branthwaite. The unit was then sent on to Huesca.

Meanwhile, back in England, Eileen had been handling the issues relating to the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier before setting out for Spain herself, leaving Nellie Limouzin to look after The Stores. Eileen volunteered for a post in John McNair’s office and with the help of Georges Kopp paid visits to her husband, bringing him English tea, chocolate, and cigars.[56] Orwell had to spend some days in hospital with a poisoned hand[57] and had most of his possessions stolen by the staff. He returned to the front and saw some action in a night attack on the Nationalist trenches where he chased an enemy soldier with a bayonet and bombed an enemy rifle position.

In April, Orwell returned to Barcelona.[57] Wanting to be sent to the Madrid front, which meant he “must join the International Column”, he approached a Communist friend attached to the Spanish Medical Aid and explained his case. “Although he did not think much of the Communists, Orwell was still ready to treat them as friends and allies. That would soon change.”[58] This was the time of the Barcelona May Days and Orwell was caught up in the factional fighting. He spent much of the time on a roof, with a stack of novels, but encountered Jon Kimche from his Hampstead days during the stay. The subsequent campaign of lies and distortion carried out by the Communist press,[59] in which the POUM was accused of collaborating with the fascists, had a dramatic effect on Orwell. Instead of joining the International Brigades as he had intended, he decided to return to the Aragon Front. Once the May fighting was over, he was approached by a Communist friend who asked if he still intended transferring to the International Brigades. Orwell expressed surprise that they should still want him, because according to the Communist press he was a fascist.[60] “No one who was in Barcelona then, or for months later, will forget the horrible atmosphere produced by fear, suspicion, hatred, censored newspapers, crammed jails, enormous food queues and prowling gangs of armed men.”[61]

After his return to the front, he was wounded in the throat by a sniper’s bullet. At 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Orwell was considerably taller than the Spanish fighters[62] and had been warned against standing against the trench parapet. Unable to speak, and with blood pouring from his mouth, Orwell was carried on a stretcher to Siétamo, loaded on an ambulance and after a bumpy journey via Barbastro arrived at the hospital at Lérida. He recovered sufficiently to get up and on 27 May 1937 was sent on to Tarragona and two days later to a POUM sanatorium in the suburbs of Barcelona. The bullet had missed his main artery by the barest margin and his voice was barely audible. It had been such a clean shot that the wound immediately went through the process of cauterisation. He received electrotherapy treatment and was declared medically unfit for service.[63]

By the middle of June the political situation in Barcelona had deteriorated and the POUM – painted by the pro-Soviet Communists as a Trotskyist organisation – was outlawed and under attack. The Communist line was that the POUM were “objectively” Fascist, hindering the Republican cause. “A particularly nasty poster appeared, showing a head with a POUM mask being ripped off to reveal a Swastika-covered face beneath.”[64] Members, including Kopp, were arrested and others were in hiding. Orwell and his wife were under threat and had to lie low,[n 3] although they broke cover to try to help Kopp.

Finally with their passports in order, they escaped from Spain by train, diverting to Banyuls-sur-Mer for a short stay before returning to England. In the first week of July 1937 Orwell arrived back at Wallington; on 13 July 1937 a deposition was presented to the Tribunal for Espionage & High Treason, Valencia, charging the Orwells with “rabid Trotskyism“, and being agents of the POUM.[65] The trial of the leaders of the POUM and of Orwell (in his absence) took place in Barcelona in October and November 1938. Observing events from French Morocco, Orwell wrote that they were ” – only a by-product of the Russian Trotskyist trials and from the start every kind of lie, including flagrant absurdities, has been circulated in the Communist press.”[66] Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War gave rise to Homage to Catalonia (1938).

Rest and recuperation

Laurence O’Shaughnessy’s former home, the large house on the corner, 24 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London[67]

Orwell returned to England in June 1937, and stayed at the O’Shaughnessy home at Greenwich. He found his views on the Spanish Civil War out of favour. Kingsley Martin rejected two of his works and Gollancz was equally cautious. At the same time, the communist Daily Worker was running an attack on The Road to Wigan Pier, misquoting Orwell as saying “the working classes smell”; a letter to Gollancz from Orwell threatening libel action brought a stop to this. Orwell was also able to find a more sympathetic publisher for his views in Frederic Warburg of Secker & Warburg. Orwell returned to Wallington, which he found in disarray after his absence. He acquired goats, a rooster he called “Henry Ford”, and a poodle puppy he called “Marx”[68][69][70] and settled down to animal husbandry and writing Homage to Catalonia.

There were thoughts of going to India to work on the Pioneer, a newspaper in Lucknow, but by March 1938 Orwell’s health had deteriorated. He was admitted to Preston Hall Sanatorium at Aylesford, Kent, a British Legion hospital for ex-servicemen to which his brother-in-law Laurence O’Shaughnessy was attached. He was thought initially to be suffering from tuberculosis and stayed in the sanatorium until September. A stream of visitors came to see him including Common, Heppenstall, Plowman and Cyril Connolly. Connolly brought with him Stephen Spender, a cause of some embarrassment as Orwell had referred to Spender as a “pansy friend” some time earlier. Homage to Catalonia was published by Secker & Warburg and was a commercial flop. In the latter part of his stay at the clinic Orwell was able to go for walks in the countryside and study nature.

The novelist L. H. Myers secretly funded a trip to French Morocco for half a year for Orwell to avoid the English winter and recover his health. The Orwells set out in September 1938 via Gibraltar and Tangier to avoid Spanish Morocco and arrived at Marrakech. They rented a villa on the road to Casablanca and during that time Orwell wrote Coming Up for Air. They arrived back in England on 30 March 1939 and Coming Up for Air was published in June. Orwell spent time in Wallington and Southwold working on a Dickens essay and it was in July 1939 that Orwell’s father, Richard Blair, died.

Second World War and Animal Farm

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell’s wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London, staying during the week with her family in Greenwich. Orwell also submitted his name to the Central Register for war work, but nothing transpired. “They won’t have me in the army, at any rate at present, because of my lungs”, Orwell told Geoffrey Gorer. He returned to Wallington, and in late 1939 he wrote material for his first collection of essays, Inside the Whale. For the next year he was occupied writing reviews for plays, films and books for The Listener, Time and Tide and New Adelphi. On 29 March 1940 his long association with Tribune began[71] with a review of a sergeant’s account of Napoleon‘s retreat from Moscow. At the beginning of 1940, the first edition of Connolly’s Horizon appeared, and this provided a new outlet for Orwell’s work as well as new literary contacts. In May the Orwells took lease of a flat in London at Dorset Chambers, Chagford Street, Marylebone. It was the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and the death in France of Eileen’s brother Lawrence caused her considerable grief and long-term depression. Throughout this period Orwell kept a wartime diary.

Orwell was declared “unfit for any kind of military service” by the Medical Board in June, but soon afterwards found an opportunity to become involved in war activities by joining the Home Guard. He shared Tom Wintringham‘s socialist vision for the Home Guard as a revolutionary People’s Militia. His lecture notes for instructing platoon members include advice on street fighting, field fortifications, and the use of mortars of various kinds. Sergeant Orwell managed to recruit Frederic Warburg to his unit. During the Battle of Britain he used to spend weekends with Warburg and his new Zionist friend, Tosco Fyvel, at Warburg’s house at Twyford, Berkshire. At Wallington he worked on “England Your England” and in London wrote reviews for various periodicals. Visiting Eileen’s family in Greenwich brought him face-to-face with the effects of the blitz on East London. In mid-1940, Warburg, Fyvel and Orwell planned Searchlight Books. Eleven volumes eventually appeared, of which Orwell’s The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, published on 19 February 1941, was the first.[72]

Early in 1941 he started writing for the American Partisan Review which linked Orwell with The New York Intellectuals, like him anti-Stalinist, but committed to staying on the Left,[73] and contributed to Gollancz anthology The Betrayal of the Left, written in the light of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (although Orwell referred to it as the Russo-German Pact and the Hitler-Stalin Pact[74]). He also applied unsuccessfully for a job at the Air Ministry. Meanwhile, he was still writing reviews of books and plays and at this time met the novelist Anthony Powell. He also took part in a few radio broadcasts for the Eastern Service of the BBC. In March the Orwells moved to a seventh-floor flat at Langford Court, St John’s Wood, while at Wallington Orwell was “digging for victory” by planting potatoes.

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, in his war-time diary, 3 July 1941[75]

In August 1941, Orwell finally obtained “war work” when he was taken on full-time by the BBC’s Eastern Service. He supervised cultural broadcasts to India to counter propaganda from Nazi Germany designed to undermine Imperial links. This was Orwell’s first experience of the rigid conformity of life in an office, and it gave him an opportunity to create cultural programmes with contributions from T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, E. M. Forster, Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, and William Empson among others.

At the end of August he had a dinner with H. G. Wells which degenerated into a row because Wells had taken offence at observations Orwell made about him in a Horizon article. In October Orwell had a bout of bronchitis and the illness recurred frequently. David Astor was looking for a provocative contributor for The Observer and invited Orwell to write for him – the first article appearing in March 1942. In early 1942 Eileen changed jobs to work at the Ministry of Food and in mid-1942 the Orwells moved to a larger flat, a ground floor and basement, 10a Mortimer Crescent in Maida Vale/Kilburn – “the kind of lower-middle-class ambience that Orwell thought was London at its best.” Around the same time Orwell’s mother and sister Avril, who had found work in a sheet-metal factory behind Kings Cross Station, moved into a flat close to George and Eileen.[76]

Orwell at the BBC in 1941. Despite having spoken on many broadcasts, no recordings of Orwell’s voice are known to survive.[77][78][79]

At the BBC, Orwell introduced Voice, a literary programme for his Indian broadcasts, and by now was leading an active social life with literary friends, particularly on the political left. Late in 1942, he started writing regularly for the left-wing weekly Tribune[80]:306[81]:441 directed by Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan and George Strauss. In March 1943 Orwell’s mother died and around the same time he told Moore he was starting work on a new book, which turned out to be Animal Farm.

In September 1943, Orwell resigned from the BBC post that he had occupied for two years.[82]:352 His resignation followed a report confirming his fears that few Indians listened to the broadcasts,[83] but he was also keen to concentrate on writing Animal Farm. Just six days before his last day of service, on 24 November 1943, his adaptation of the fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Emperor’s New Clothes was broadcast. It was a genre in which he was greatly interested and which appeared on Animal Farms title-page.[84] At this time he also resigned from the Home Guard on medical grounds.[85]

In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where his assistant was his old friend Jon Kimche. Orwell was on staff until early 1945, writing over 80 book reviews[86] and on 3 December 1943 started his regular personal column, “As I Please“, usually addressing three or four subjects in each.[87] He was still writing reviews for other magazines, including Partisan Review, Horizon, and the New York Nation and becoming a respected pundit among left-wing circles but also a close friend of people on the right such as Powell, Astor and Malcolm Muggeridge. By April 1944 Animal Farm was ready for publication. Gollancz refused to publish it, considering it an attack on the Soviet regime which was a crucial ally in the war. A similar fate was met from other publishers (including T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber) until Jonathan Cape agreed to take it.

In May the Orwells had the opportunity to adopt a child, thanks to the contacts of Eileen’s sister Gwen O’Shaughnessy, then a doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne. In June a V-1 flying bomb struck Mortimer Crescent and the Orwells had to find somewhere else to live. Orwell had to scrabble around in the rubble for his collection of books, which he had finally managed to transfer from Wallington, carting them away in a wheelbarrow.

Another bombshell was Cape’s reversal of his plan to publish Animal Farm. The decision followed his personal visit to Peter Smollett, an official at the Ministry of Information. Smollett was later identified as a Soviet agent.[88][89]

The Orwells spent some time in the North East, near Carlton, County Durham, dealing with matters in the adoption of a boy whom they named Richard Horatio Blair.[90] By September 1944 they had set up home in Islington, at 27b Canonbury Square.[91] Baby Richard joined them there, and Eileen gave up her work at the Ministry of Food to look after her family. Secker & Warburg had agreed to publish Animal Farm, planned for the following March, although it did not appear in print until August 1945. By February 1945 David Astor had invited Orwell to become a war correspondent for the Observer. Orwell had been looking for the opportunity throughout the war, but his failed medical reports prevented him from being allowed anywhere near action. He went to Paris after the liberation of France and to Cologne once it had been occupied by the Allies.

It was while he was there that Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945. She had not given Orwell much notice about this operation because of worries about the cost and because she expected to make a speedy recovery. Orwell returned home for a while and then went back to Europe. He returned finally to London to cover the 1945 general election at the beginning of July. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, and a year later in the US, on 26 August 1946.

Jura and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Animal Farm struck a particular resonance in the post-war climate and its worldwide success made Orwell a sought-after figure.

For the next four years Orwell mixed journalistic work – mainly for Tribune, The Observer and the Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many small-circulation political and literary magazines – with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.

Barnhill on the Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland

In the year following Eileen’s death he published around 130 articles and a selection of his Critical Essays, while remaining active in various political lobbying campaigns. He employed a housekeeper, Susan Watson, to look after his adopted son at the Islington flat, which visitors now described as “bleak”. In September he spent a fortnight on the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides and saw it as a place to escape from the hassle of London literary life. David Astor was instrumental in arranging a place for Orwell on Jura.[92] Astor’s family owned Scottish estates in the area and a fellow Old Etonian Robin Fletcher had a property on the island. In late 1945 and early 1946 Orwell made several hopeless and unwelcome marriage proposals to younger women, including Celia Kirwan (who was later to become Arthur Koestler‘s sister-in-law), Ann Popham who happened to live in the same block of flats and Sonia Brownell, one of Connolly’s coterie at the Horizon office. Orwell suffered a tubercular haemorrhage in February 1946 but disguised his illness. In 1945 or early 1946, while still living at Canonbury Square, Orwell wrote an article on “British Cookery”, complete with recipes, commissioned by the British Council. Given the post-war shortages, both parties agreed not to publish it.[93] His sister Marjorie died of kidney disease in May and shortly after, on 22 May 1946, Orwell set off to live on the Isle of Jura.

Barnhill[94] was an abandoned farmhouse with outbuildings near the northern end of the island, situated at the end of a five-mile (8 km), heavily rutted track from Ardlussa, where the owners lived. Conditions at the farmhouse were primitive but the natural history and the challenge of improving the place appealed to Orwell. His sister Avril accompanied him there and young novelist Paul Potts made up the party. In July Susan Watson arrived with Orwell’s son Richard. Tensions developed and Potts departed after one of his manuscripts was used to light the fire. Orwell meanwhile set to work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later Susan Watson’s boyfriend David Holbrook arrived. A fan of Orwell since school days, he found the reality very different, with Orwell hostile and disagreeable probably because of Holbrook’s membership of the Communist Party.[95] Susan Watson could no longer stand being with Avril and she and her boyfriend left.

Orwell returned to London in late 1946 and picked up his literary journalism again. Now a well-known writer, he was swamped with work. Apart from a visit to Jura in the new year he stayed in London for one of the coldest British winters on record and with such a national shortage of fuel that he burnt his furniture and his child’s toys. The heavy smog in the days before the Clean Air Act 1956 did little to help his health about which he was reticent, keeping clear of medical attention. Meanwhile, he had to cope with rival claims of publishers Gollancz and Warburg for publishing rights. About this time he co-edited a collection titled British Pamphleteers with Reginald Reynolds. As a result of the success of Animal Farm, Orwell was expecting a large bill from the Inland Revenue and he contacted a firm of accountants of which the senior partner was Jack Harrison. The firm advised Orwell to establish a company to own his copyright and to receive his royalties and set up a “service agreement” so that he could draw a salary. Such a company “George Orwell Productions Ltd” (GOP Ltd) was set up on 12 September 1947 although the service agreement was not then put into effect. Jack Harrison left the details at this stage to junior colleagues.[96]

Orwell left London for Jura on 10 April 1947.[8] In July he ended the lease on the Wallington cottage.[97] Back on Jura he worked on Nineteen Eighty-Four and made good progress. During that time his sister’s family visited, and Orwell led a disastrous boating expedition, on 19 August,[98] which nearly led to loss of life whilst trying to cross the notorious gulf of Corryvreckan and gave him a soaking which was not good for his health. In December a chest specialist was summoned from Glasgow who pronounced Orwell seriously ill and a week before Christmas 1947 he was in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, then a small village in the countryside, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Tuberculosis was diagnosed and the request for permission to import streptomycin to treat Orwell went as far as Aneurin Bevan, then Minister of Health. David Astor helped with supply and payment and Orwell began his course of streptomycin on 19 or 20 February 1948.[99] By the end of July 1948 Orwell was able to return to Jura and by December he had finished the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In January 1949, in a very weak condition, he set off for a sanatorium at Cranham, Gloucestershire, escorted by Richard Rees.

The sanatorium at Cranham consisted of a series of small wooden chalets or huts in a remote part of the Cotswolds near Stroud. Visitors were shocked by Orwell’s appearance and concerned by the short-comings and ineffectiveness of the treatment. Friends were worried about his finances, but by now he was comparatively well-off. He was writing to many of his friends, including Jacintha Buddicom, who had “rediscovered” him, and in March 1949, was visited by Celia Kirwan. Kirwan had just started working for a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, set up by the Labour government to publish anti-communist propaganda, and Orwell gave her a list of people he considered to be unsuitable as IRD authors because of their pro-communist leanings. Orwell’s list, not published until 2003, consisted mainly of writers but also included actors and Labour MPs.[88][100] Orwell received more streptomycin treatment and improved slightly. In June 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim.

Final months and death

University College Hospital in London where Orwell died

Orwell’s health had continued to decline since the diagnosis of tuberculosis in December 1947. In mid-1949, he courted Sonia Brownell, and they announced their engagement in September, shortly before he was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell’s affairs and attended him diligently in the hospital, causing concern to some old friends such as Muggeridge. In September 1949, Orwell invited his accountant Harrison to visit him in hospital, and Harrison claimed that Orwell then asked him to become director of GOP Ltd and to manage the company, but there was no independent witness.[96] Orwell’s wedding took place in the hospital room on 13 October 1949, with David Astor as best man.[101] Orwell was in decline and visited by an assortment of visitors including Muggeridge, Connolly, Lucian Freud, Stephen Spender, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Potts, Anthony Powell, and his Eton tutor Anthony Gow.[8] Plans to go to the Swiss Alps were mooted. Further meetings were held with his accountant, at which Harrison and Mr and Mrs Blair were confirmed as directors of the company, and at which Harrison claimed that the “service agreement” was executed, giving copyright to the company.[96] Orwell’s health was in decline again by Christmas. On the evening of 20 January 1950, Potts visited Orwell and slipped away on finding him asleep. Jack Harrison visited later and claimed that Orwell gave him 25% of the company.[96] Early on the morning of 21 January, an artery burst in Orwell’s lungs, killing him at age 46.[102]

Orwell had requested to be buried in accordance with the Anglican rite in the graveyard of the closest church to wherever he happened to die. The graveyards in central London had no space, and fearing that he might have to be cremated against his wishes, his widow appealed to his friends to see whether any of them knew of a church with space in its graveyard.

George Orwell’s grave in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

David Astor lived in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, and arranged for Orwell to be interred in All Saints’ Churchyard there.[103] Orwell’s gravestone bears the simple epitaph: “Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950”; no mention is made on the gravestone of his more famous pen name.

Orwell’s son, Richard Horatio Blair, was brought up by Orwell’s sister Avril. He maintains a public profile as patron of the Orwell Society.[104] He gives interviews about the few memories he has of his father.

In 1979, Sonia Brownell brought a High Court action against Harrison, who had in the meantime transferred 75% of the company’s voting stock to himself and had dissipated much of the value of the company. She was considered to have a strong case, but was becoming increasingly ill and eventually was persuaded to settle out of court on 2 November 1980. She died on 11 December 1980, aged 62.[96]

Literary career and legacy

During most of his career, Orwell was best known for his journalism, in essays, reviews, columns in newspapers and magazines and in his books of reportage: Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a period of poverty in these cities), The Road to Wigan Pier (describing the living conditions of the poor in northern England, and class division generally) and Homage to Catalonia. According to Irving Howe, Orwell was “the best English essayist since Hazlitt, perhaps since Dr Johnson.”[105]

Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The former is often thought to reflect degeneration in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism; the latter, life under totalitarian rule. Nineteen Eighty-Four is often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; both are powerful dystopian novels warning of a future world where the state machine exerts complete control over social life. In 1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451 were honoured with the Prometheus Award for their contributions to dystopian literature. In 2011 he received it again for Animal Farm.

Coming Up for Air, his last novel before World War II is the most “English” of his novels; alarms of war mingle with images of idyllic Thames-side Edwardian childhood of protagonist George Bowling. The novel is pessimistic; industrialism and capitalism have killed the best of Old England, and there were great, new external threats. In homely terms, Bowling posits the totalitarian hypotheses of Borkenau, Orwell, Silone and Koestler: “Old Hitler’s something different. So’s Joe Stalin. They aren’t like these chaps in the old days who crucified people and chopped their heads off and so forth, just for the fun of it … They’re something quite new – something that’s never been heard of before”.

Literary influences

In an autobiographical piece that Orwell sent to the editors of Twentieth Century Authors in 1940, he wrote: “The writers I care about most and never grow tired of are: Shakespeare, Swift, Fielding, Dickens, Charles Reade, Flaubert and, among modern writers, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. But I believe the modern writer who has influenced me most is W. Somerset Maugham, whom I admire immensely for his power of telling a story straightforwardly and without frills.” Elsewhere, Orwell strongly praised the works of Jack London, especially his book The Road. Orwell’s investigation of poverty in The Road to Wigan Pier strongly resembles that of Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, in which the American journalist disguises himself as an out-of-work sailor to investigate the lives of the poor in London. In his essay “Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver’s Travels” (1946) Orwell wrote: “If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver’s Travels among them.”

Other writers admired by Orwell included: Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Gissing, Graham Greene, Herman Melville, Henry Miller, Tobias Smollett, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Yevgeny Zamyatin.[106] He was both an admirer and a critic of Rudyard Kipling,[107][108] praising Kipling as a gifted writer and a “good bad poet” whose work is “spurious” and “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting,” but undeniably seductive and able to speak to certain aspects of reality more effectively than more enlightened authors.[109] He had a similarly ambivalent attitude to G. K. Chesterton, whom he regarded as a writer of considerable talent who had chosen to devote himself to “Roman Catholic propaganda”.[110]

Orwell as literary critic

Throughout his life Orwell continually supported himself as a book reviewer, writing works so long and sophisticated they have had an influence on literary criticism. He wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens,

When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens’s photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry – in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.

George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterised Orwell as much as his subject.[111]

Orwell wrote a critique of George Bernard Shaw‘s play Arms and the Man. He considered this Shaw’s best play and the most likely to remain socially relevant, because of its theme that war is not, generally speaking, a glorious romantic adventure. His 1945 essay In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse contains an amusing assessment of his writing and also argues that his broadcasts from Germany (during the war) did not really make him a traitor. He accused The Ministry of Information of exaggerating Wodehouse’s actions for propaganda purposes.

Reception and evaluations of Orwell’s works

Arthur Koestler mentioned Orwell’s “uncompromising intellectual honesty [which] made him appear almost inhuman at times.”[112] Ben Wattenberg stated: “Orwell’s writing pierced intellectual hypocrisy wherever he found it.”[113] According to historian Piers Brendon, “Orwell was the saint of common decency who would in earlier days, said his BBC boss Rushbrook Williams, ‘have been either canonised – or burnt at the stake'”.[114] Raymond Williams in Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review describes Orwell as a “successful impersonation of a plain man who bumps into experience in an unmediated way and tells the truth about it.”[115] Christopher Norris declared that Orwell’s “homespun empiricist outlook – his assumption that the truth was just there to be told in a straightforward common-sense way – now seems not merely naïve but culpably self-deluding”.[116] The American scholar Scott Lucas has described Orwell[117] as an enemy of the Left. John Newsinger has argued[118] that Lucas could only do this by portraying “all of Orwell’s attacks on Stalinism [-] as if they were attacks on socialism, despite Orwell’s continued insistence that they were not.”

Orwell’s work has taken a prominent place in the school literature curriculum in England,[119] with Animal Farm a regular examination topic at the end of secondary education (GCSE), and Nineteen Eighty-Four a topic for subsequent examinations below university level (A Levels). Alan Brown noted that this brings to the forefront questions about the political content of teaching practices. Study aids, in particular with potted biographies, might be seen to help propagate the Orwell myth so that as an embodiment of human values he is presented as a “trustworthy guide”, while examination questions sometimes suggest a “right ways of answering” in line with the myth.[120][clarification needed]

Historian John Rodden stated: “John Podhoretz did claim that if Orwell were alive today, he’d be standing with the neo-conservatives and against the Left. And the question arises, to what extent can you even begin to predict the political positions of somebody who’s been dead three decades and more by that time?”[113]

In Orwell’s Victory, Christopher Hitchens argues, “In answer to the accusation of inconsistency Orwell as a writer was forever taking his own temperature. In other words, here was someone who never stopped testing and adjusting his intelligence”.[121]

John Rodden points out the “undeniable conservative features in the Orwell physiognomy” and remarks on how “to some extent Orwell facilitated the kinds of uses and abuses by the Right that his name has been put to. In other ways there has been the politics of selective quotation.”[113] Rodden refers to the essay “Why I Write“, in which Orwell refers to the Spanish Civil War as being his “watershed political experience”, saying “The Spanish War and other events in 1936–37, turned the scale. Thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism as I understand it.” (emphasis in original)[113] Rodden goes on to explain how, during the McCarthy era, the introduction to the Signet edition of Animal Farm, which sold more than 20 million copies, makes use of “the politics of ellipsis”:

If the book itself, Animal Farm, had left any doubt of the matter, Orwell dispelled it in his essay Why I Write: ‘Every line of serious work that I’ve written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against Totalitarianism … dot, dot, dot, dot.’ “For Democratic Socialism” is vaporised, just like Winston Smith did it at the Ministry of Truth, and that’s very much what happened at the beginning of the McCarthy era and just continued, Orwell being selectively quoted.[113]

Fyvel wrote about Orwell: “His crucial experience … was his struggle to turn himself into a writer, one which led through long periods of poverty, failure and humiliation, and about which he has written almost nothing directly. The sweat and agony was less in the slum-life than in the effort to turn the experience into literature.”[122][123]

In October 2015 Finlay Publisher, for the Orwell Society, published George Orwell ‘The Complete Poetry’, compiled and presented by Dione Venables.[124]

Influence on language and writing

In his essay “Politics and the English Language” (1946), Orwell wrote about the importance of precise and clear language, arguing that vague writing can be used as a powerful tool of political manipulation because it shapes the way we think. In that essay, Orwell provides six rules for writers:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.[125]

Andrew N. Rubin argues, “Orwell claimed that we should be attentive to how the use of language has limited our capacity for critical thought just as we should be equally concerned with the ways in which dominant modes of thinking have reshaped the very language that we use.”[126]

The adjective Orwellian connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past. In Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell described a totalitarian government that controlled thought by controlling language, making certain ideas literally unthinkable. Several words and phrases from Nineteen Eighty-Four have entered popular language. Newspeak is a simplified and obfuscatory language designed to make independent thought impossible. Doublethink means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The Thought Police are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. Prolefeed is homogenised, manufactured superficial literature, film and music, used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. Big Brother is a supreme dictator who watches everyone.

Orwell may have been the first to use the term cold war to refer to the state of tension between powers in the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc that followed the Second World War, in his essay, “You and the Atom Bomb”, published in Tribune, 19 October 1945. He wrote:

We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham‘s theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications – this is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbours.[127]

Museum

In 2014 it was announced that Orwell’s birthplace, a bungalow in Motihari, Bihar, in India would become the world’s first Orwell museum.[10][128]

Modern Culture

In 2014 a play written by playwright Joe Sutton titled Orwell in America was first performed. It is a fictitious account of Orwell doing a book tour in America (something he never did in his lifetime). It moved to Off-Broadway in 2016.[129]

Personal life

Childhood

Jacintha Buddicom‘s account Eric & Us provides an insight into Blair’s childhood.[130] She quoted his sister Avril that “he was essentially an aloof, undemonstrative person” and said herself of his friendship with the Buddicoms: “I do not think he needed any other friends beyond the schoolfriend he occasionally and appreciatively referred to as ‘CC'”. She could not recall his having schoolfriends to stay and exchange visits as her brother Prosper often did in holidays.[131] Cyril Connolly provides an account of Blair as a child in Enemies of Promise.[23] Years later, Blair mordantly recalled his prep school in the essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“, claiming among other things that he “was made to study like a dog” to earn a scholarship, which he alleged was solely to enhance the school’s prestige with parents. Jacintha Buddicom repudiated Orwell’s schoolboy misery described in the essay, stating that “he was a specially happy child”. She noted that he did not like his name, because it reminded him of a book he greatly disliked – Eric, or, Little by Little, a Victorian boys’ school story.[132]

Connolly remarked of him as a schoolboy, “The remarkable thing about Orwell was that alone among the boys he was an intellectual and not a parrot for he thought for himself”.[23] At Eton, John Vaughan Wilkes, his former headmaster’s son recalled, “… he was extremely argumentative – about anything – and criticising the masters and criticising the other boys … We enjoyed arguing with him. He would generally win the arguments – or think he had anyhow.”[133] Roger Mynors concurs: “Endless arguments about all sorts of things, in which he was one of the great leaders. He was one of those boys who thought for himself …”[134]

Blair liked to carry out practical jokes. Buddicom recalls him swinging from the luggage rack in a railway carriage like an orangutan to frighten a woman passenger out of the compartment.[14] At Eton he played tricks on John Crace, his Master in College, among which was to enter a spoof advertisement in a College magazine implying pederasty.[135] Gow, his tutor, said he “made himself as big a nuisance as he could” and “was a very unattractive boy”.[136] Later Blair was expelled from the crammer at Southwold for sending a dead rat as a birthday present to the town surveyor.[137] In one of his As I Please essays he refers to a protracted joke when he answered an advertisement for a woman who claimed a cure for obesity.[138]

Blair had an interest in natural history which stemmed from his childhood. In letters from school he wrote about caterpillars and butterflies,[139] and Buddicom recalls his keen interest in ornithology. He also enjoyed fishing and shooting rabbits, and conducting experiments as in cooking a hedgehog[14] or shooting down a jackdaw from the Eton roof to dissect it.[134] His zeal for scientific experiments extended to explosives – again Buddicom recalls a cook giving notice because of the noise. Later in Southwold his sister Avril recalled him blowing up the garden. When teaching he enthused his students with his nature-rambles both at Southwold[140] and Hayes.[141] His adult diaries are permeated with his observations on nature.

Relationships and marriage

Buddicom and Blair lost touch shortly after he went to Burma, and she became unsympathetic towards him. She wrote that it was because of the letters he wrote complaining about his life, but an addendum to Eric & Us by Venables reveals that he may have lost her sympathy through an incident which was, at best, a clumsy attempt at seduction.[14]

Mabel Fierz, who later became Blair’s confidante, said: “He used to say the one thing he wished in this world was that he’d been attractive to women. He liked women and had many girlfriends I think in Burma. He had a girl in Southwold and another girl in London. He was rather a womaniser, yet he was afraid he wasn’t attractive.”[142]

Brenda Salkield (Southwold) preferred friendship to any deeper relationship and maintained a correspondence with Blair for many years, particularly as a sounding board for his ideas. She wrote: “He was a great letter writer. Endless letters, and I mean when he wrote you a letter he wrote pages.”[22] His correspondence with Eleanor Jacques (London) was more prosaic, dwelling on a closer relationship and referring to past rendezvous or planning future ones in London and Burnham Beeches.[143]

When Orwell was in the sanatorium in Kent, his wife’s friend Lydia Jackson visited. He invited her for a walk and out of sight “an awkward situation arose.”[144] Jackson was to be the most critical of Orwell’s marriage to Eileen O’Shaughnessy, but their later correspondence hints at a complicity. Eileen at the time was more concerned about Orwell’s closeness to Brenda Salkield. Orwell had an affair with his secretary at Tribune which caused Eileen much distress, and others have been mooted. In a letter to Ann Popham he wrote: “I was sometimes unfaithful to Eileen, and I also treated her badly, and I think she treated me badly, too, at times, but it was a real marriage, in the sense that we had been through awful struggles together and she understood all about my work, etc.”[145]Similarly he suggested to Celia Kirwan that they had both been unfaithful.[146] There are several testaments that it was a well-matched and happy marriage.[147][148][149]

Blair was very lonely after Eileen’s death, and desperate for a wife, both as companion for himself and as mother for Richard. He proposed marriage to four women, including Celia Kirwan, and eventually Sonia Brownell accepted.[150] Orwell had met her when she was assistant to Cyril Connolly, at Horizon literary magazine.[151] They were married on 13 October 1949, only three months before Orwell’s death. Some maintain that Sonia was the model for Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Religious views

Orwell regularly participated in the social and civic life of the church, and yet was an atheist, both critical of religious doctrine and of religious organisations. He attended Holy Communion at the Church of England regularly,[152] and makes allusions to Anglican rites in his book A Clergyman’s Daughter. He was extremely well-read in Biblical literature and could quote lengthy passages from the Book of Common Prayer from memory.[153] However, his forensic knowledge of the Bible came coupled with unsparing criticism of its philosophy, and as an adult he could not bring himself to believe in its tenets. He said clearly in part V of his essay, “Such, Such Were the Joys“: “Till about the age of fourteen I believed in God, and believed that the accounts given of him were true. But I was well aware that I did not love him.”[154] Of his regular Church attendance, he said: “It seems rather mean to go to HC [Holy Communion] when one doesn’t believe, but I have passed myself off for pious & there is nothing for it but to keep up with the deception.”[155]Despite this, he had two Anglican marriages and left instructions for an Anglican funeral.[156] Orwell directly contrasted Christianity with secular humanism in his essay “Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool“, finding the latter philosophy more palatable and less “self-interested.” Literary critic James Wood wrote that in the struggle, as he saw it, between Christianity and humanism, “Orwell was on the humanist side, of course—basically an unmetaphysical, English version of Camus’s philosophy of perpetual godless struggle.”[157]

Orwell’s writing was often explicitly critical of religion, and Christianity in particular. He found the church to be a “selfish … church of the landed gentry” with its establishment “out of touch” with the majority of its communicants and altogether a pernicious influence on public life.[158] In their 1972 study, The Unknown Orwell, the writers Peter Stansky and William Abrahams noted that at Eton Blair displayed a “sceptical attitude” to Christian belief.[159] Crick observed that Orwell displayed “a pronounced anti-Catholicism”.[160] Evelyn Waugh, writing in 1946, acknowledged Orwell’s high moral sense and respect for justice but believed “he seems never to have been touched at any point by a conception of religious thought and life.”[161] His contradictory and sometimes ambiguous views about the social benefits of religious affiliation mirrored the dichotomies between his public and private lives: Stephen Ingle wrote that it was as if the writer George Orwell “vaunted” his unbelief while Eric Blair the individual retained “a deeply ingrained religiosity”. Ingle later noted that Orwell did not accept the existence of an afterlife, believing in the finality of death while living and advocating a moral code based on Judeo-Christian beliefs.[162][163]

Political views

Orwell liked to provoke arguments by challenging the status quo, but he was also a traditionalist with a love of old English values. He criticised and satirised, from the inside, the various social milieux in which he found himself – provincial town life in A Clergyman’s Daughter; middle-class pretension in Keep the Aspidistra Flying; preparatory schools in “Such, Such Were the Joys”; colonialism in Burmese Days, and some socialist groups in The Road to Wigan Pier. In his Adelphi days he described himself as a “Toryanarchist.”[164][165]

In 1928, Orwell began his career as a professional writer in Paris at a journal owned by the French Communist Henri Barbusse. His first article, “La Censure en Angleterre“, was an attempt to account for the ‘extraordinary and illogical’ moral censorship of plays and novels then practised in Britain. His own explanation was that the rise of the “puritan middle class,” who had stricter morals than the aristocracy, tightened the rules of censorship in the 19th century. Orwell’s first published article in his home country, “A Farthing Newspaper”, was a critique of the new French daily the Ami de Peuple. This paper was sold much more cheaply than most others, and was intended for ordinary people to read. Orwell pointed out that its proprietor François Coty also owned the right-wing dailies Le Figaro and Le Gaulois, which the Ami de Peuple was supposedly competing against. Orwell suggested that cheap newspapers were no more than a vehicle for advertising and anti-leftist propaganda, and predicted the world might soon see free newspapers which would drive legitimate dailies out of business.[166]

The Spanish Civil War played the most important part in defining Orwell’s socialism. He wrote to Cyril Connolly from Barcelona on 8 June 1937: “I have seen wonderful things and at last really believe in Socialism, which I never did before.”[167][168] Having witnessed the success of the anarcho-syndicalist communities, for example in Anarchist Catalonia, and the subsequent brutal suppression of the anarcho-syndicalists, anti-Stalin communist parties and revolutionaries by the Soviet Union-backed Communists, Orwell returned from Catalonia a staunch anti-Stalinist and joined the Independent Labour Party, his card being issued on 13 June 1938.[169] Although he was never a Trotskyist, he was strongly influenced by the Trotskyist and anarchist critiques of the Soviet regime, and by the anarchists’ emphasis on individual freedom. In Part 2 of The Road to Wigan Pier, published by the Left Book Club, Orwell stated: “a real Socialist is one who wishes – not merely conceives it as desirable, but actively wishes – to see tyranny overthrown.” Orwell stated in “Why I Write” (1946): “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”[170] Orwell was a proponent of a federal socialist Europe, a position outlined in his 1947 essay “Toward European Unity,” which first appeared in Partisan Review. According to biographer John Newsinger,

the other crucial dimension to Orwell’s socialism was his recognition that the Soviet Union was not socialist. Unlike many on the left, instead of abandoning socialism once he discovered the full horror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union, Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union and instead remained a socialist – indeed he became more committed to the socialist cause than ever.”[60]

In his 1938 essay “Why I joined the Independent Labour Party,” published in the ILP-affiliated New Leader, Orwell wrote:

For some years past I have managed to make the capitalist class pay me several pounds a week for writing books against capitalism. But I do not delude myself that this state of affairs is going to last forever … the only régime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a Socialist régime. If Fascism triumphs I am finished as a writer – that is to say, finished in my only effective capacity. That of itself would be a sufficient reason for joining a Socialist party.[171]

Towards the end of the essay, he wrote: “I do not mean I have lost all faith in the Labour Party. My most earnest hope is that the Labour Party will win a clear majority in the next General Election.”[172]

Orwell was opposed to rearmament against Nazi Germany – but he changed his view after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the outbreak of the war. He left the ILP because of its opposition to the war and adopted a political position of “revolutionary patriotism”. In December 1940 he wrote in Tribune (the Labour left’s weekly): “We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary.” During the war, Orwell was highly critical of the popular idea that an Anglo-Soviet alliance would be the basis of a post-war world of peace and prosperity. In 1942, commenting on journalist E. H. Carr‘s pro-Soviet views, Orwell stated: “all the appeasers, e.g. Professor E. H. Carr, have switched their allegiance from Hitler to Stalin.”[173]

On anarchism, Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier: “I worked out an anarchistic theory that all government is evil, that the punishment always does more harm than the crime and the people can be trusted to behave decently if you will only let them alone.” He continued and argued that “it is always necessary to protect peaceful people from violence. In any state of society where crime can be profitable you have got to have a harsh criminal law and administer it ruthlessly.”

In his reply (dated 15 November 1943) to an invitation from the Duchess of Atholl to speak for the British League for European Freedom, he stated that he did not agree with their objectives. He admitted that what they said was “more truthful than the lying propaganda found in most of the press” but added that he could not “associate himself with an essentially Conservative body” that claimed to “defend democracy in Europe” but had “nothing to say about British imperialism.” His closing paragraph stated: “I belong to the Left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country.”[174]

Orwell joined the staff of Tribune as literary editor, and from then until his death, was a left-wing (though hardly orthodox) Labour-supporting democratic socialist.[175] On 1 September 1944, about the Warsaw uprising, Orwell expressed in Tribune his hostility against the influence of the alliance with the USSR over the allies: “Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Do not imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the sovietic regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly return to honesty and reason. Once a whore, always a whore.” According to Newsinger, although Orwell “was always critical of the 1945–51 Labour government’s moderation, his support for it began to pull him to the right politically. This did not lead him to embrace conservatism, imperialism or reaction, but to defend, albeit critically, Labour reformism.”[176] Between 1945 and 1947, with A. J. Ayer and Bertrand Russell, he contributed a series of articles and essays to Polemic, a short-lived British “Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics” edited by the ex-Communist Humphrey Slater.[177][178]

Writing in early 1945 a long essay titled “Antisemitism in Britain,” for the Contemporary Jewish Record, Orwell stated that anti-Semitism was on the increase in Britain, and that it was “irrational and will not yield to arguments.” He argued that it would be useful to discover why anti-Semites could “swallow such absurdities on one particular subject while remaining sane on others.”[179] He wrote: “For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. … Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own anti-Semitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness.”[180] In Nineteen Eighty-Four, written shortly after the war, Orwell portrayed the Party as enlisting anti-Semitic passions against their enemy, Goldstein.

Orwell publicly defended P.G. Wodehouse against charges of being a Nazi sympathiser – occasioned by his agreement to do some broadcasts over the German radio in 1941 – a defence based on Wodehouse’s lack of interest in and ignorance of politics.[181]

Special Branch, the intelligence division of the Metropolitan Police, maintained a file on Orwell for more than 20 years of his life. The dossier, published by The National Archives, states that, according to one investigator, Orwell had “advanced Communist views and several of his Indian friends say that they have often seen him at Communist meetings.” MI5, the intelligence department of the Home Office, noted: “It is evident from his recent writings – ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ – and his contribution to Gollancz’s symposium The Betrayal of the Left that he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him.”[182]

Social interactions

Orwell was noted for very close and enduring friendships with a few friends, but these were generally people with a similar background or with a similar level of literary ability. Ungregarious, he was out of place in a crowd and his discomfort was exacerbated when he was outside his own class. Though representing himself as a spokesman for the common man, he often appeared out of place with real working people. His brother-in-law Humphrey Dakin, a “Hail fellow, well met” type, who took him to a local pub in Leeds, said that he was told by the landlord: “Don’t bring that bugger in here again.”[183] Adrian Fierz commented “He wasn’t interested in racing or greyhounds or pub crawling or shove ha’penny. He just did not have much in common with people who did not share his intellectual interests.”[184] Awkwardness attended many of his encounters with working-class representatives, as with Pollitt and McNair,[185] but his courtesy and good manners were often commented on. Jack Common observed on meeting him for the first time, “Right away manners, and more than manners – breeding – showed through.”[186]

In his tramping days, he did domestic work for a time. His extreme politeness was recalled by a member of the family he worked for; she declared that the family referred to him as “Laurel” after the film comedian.[38] With his gangling figure and awkwardness, Orwell’s friends often saw him as a figure of fun. Geoffrey Gorer commented “He was awfully likely to knock things off tables, trip over things. I mean, he was a gangling, physically badly co-ordinated young man. I think his feeling [was] that even the inanimate world was against him …”[187] When he shared a flat with Heppenstall and Sayer, he was treated in a patronising manner by the younger men.[188] At the BBC, in the 1940s, “everybody would pull his leg,”[189] and Spender described him as having real entertainment value “like, as I say, watching a Charlie Chaplin movie.”[190] A friend of Eileen’s reminisced about her tolerance and humour, often at Orwell’s expense.[148] Psychiatrist Michael Fitzgerald has speculated that Orwell’s social and physical awkwardness, limited interests and monotone voice were the result of Asperger syndrome.[191]

One biography of Orwell accused him of having had an authoritarian streak.[192] In Burma, he struck out at a Burmese boy who, while “fooling around” with his friends, had “accidentally bumped into him” at a station, resulting in Orwell falling “heavily” down some stairs.[193] One of his former pupils recalled being beaten so hard he could not sit down for a week.[194] When sharing a flat with Orwell, Heppenstall came home late one night in an advanced stage of loud inebriation. The upshot was that Heppenstall ended up with a bloody nose and was locked in a room. When he complained, Orwell hit him across the legs with a shooting stick and Heppenstall then had to defend himself with a chair. Years later, after Orwell’s death, Heppenstall wrote a dramatic account of the incident called “The Shooting Stick”[195] and Mabel Fierz confirmed that Heppenstall came to her in a sorry state the following day.[196]

Orwell got on well with young people. The pupil he beat considered him the best of teachers, and the young recruits in Barcelona tried to drink him under the table – though without success. His nephew recalled Uncle Eric laughing louder than anyone in the cinema at a Charlie Chaplin film.[147]

In the wake of his most famous works, he attracted many uncritical hangers-on, but many others who sought him found him aloof and even dull. With his soft voice, he was sometimes shouted down or excluded from discussions.[197] At this time, he was severely ill; it was wartime or the austerity period after it; during the war his wife suffered from depression; and after her death he was lonely and unhappy. In addition to that, he always lived frugally and seemed unable to care for himself properly. As a result of all this, people found his circumstances bleak.[198] Some, like Michael Ayrton, called him “Gloomy George,” but others developed the idea that he was a “secular saint.”

Although Orwell was frequently heard on the BBC for panel discussion and one-man broadcasts, no recorded copy of his voice is known to exist.[199]

Lifestyle

“By putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk, whereas one is likely to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round”

– One of Orwell’s eleven rules for making tea from his essay “A Nice Cup of Tea“, appearing in the London Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.[200]

Orwell was a heavy smoker, who rolled his own cigarettes from strong shag tobacco, despite his bronchial condition. His penchant for the rugged life often took him to cold and damp situations, both in the long term, as in Catalonia and Jura, and short term, for example, motorcycling in the rain and suffering a shipwreck. Described by The Economist as “perhaps the 20th century’s best chronicler of English culture“,[201] Orwell considered fish and chips, association football, the pub, strong tea, cut price chocolate, the movies, and radio among the chief comforts for the working class.[202] Orwell enjoyed strong tea – he had Fortnum & Mason‘s tea brought to him in Catalonia.[8] His 1946 essay, “A Nice Cup of Tea“, appeared in the London Evening Standard article on how to make tea, with Orwell writing, “tea is one of the mainstays of civilisation in this country and causes violent disputes over how it should be made”, with the main issue being whether to put tea in the cup first and add the milk afterward, or the other way round, on which he states, “in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject”.[203] He appreciated English beer, taken regularly and moderately, despised drinkers of lager[204] and wrote about an imagined, ideal British pub in his 1946 English Standard article, “The Moon Under Water“.[205] Not as particular about food, he enjoyed the wartime “Victory Pie”[206] and extolled canteen food at the BBC.[189] He preferred traditional English dishes, such as roast beef and kippers.[207] Reports of his Islington days refer to the cosy afternoon tea table.[208]

His dress sense was unpredictable and usually casual.[209] In Southwold, he had the best cloth from the local tailor[210] but was equally happy in his tramping outfit. His attire in the Spanish Civil War, along with his size-12 boots, was a source of amusement.[211][212]David Astor described him as looking like a prep school master,[213] while according to the Special Branch dossier, Orwell’s tendency to dress “in Bohemian fashion” revealed that the author was “a Communist”.[214]

Orwell’s confusing approach to matters of social decorum – on the one hand expecting a working-class guest to dress for dinner,[215] and on the other, slurping tea out of a saucer at the BBC canteen[216] – helped stoke his reputation as an English eccentric.

Views on homosexuality

Orwell was openly homophobic, at a time when such prejudice was not uncommon. Speaking at the 2003 George Orwell Centenary Conference, Daphne Patai said: “Of course he was homophobic. That has nothing to do with his relations with his homosexual friends. Certainly he had a negative attitude and a certain kind of anxiety, a denigrating attitude towards homosexuality. That is definitely the case. I think his writing reflects that quite fully.”[217]

Orwell used the homophobic epithets “Nancy” and “pansy” as terms of abuse, notably in his expressions of contempt for what he called the “pansy Left”, and “nancy poets”, i.e. left-wing homosexual or bisexual writers and intellectuals such as Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden.[218] The protagonist of Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Gordon Comstock, conducts an internal critique of his customers when working in a bookshop, and there is an extended passage of several pages in which he concentrates on a homosexual male customer, and sneers at him for his “Nancy” characteristics, including a lisp, which he identifies in detail, with some disgust.[219] Dr Thomas S Veale, in The Banality of Virtue: A Multifaceted view of George Orwell as champion of the common man, refers to Orwell’s “homophobia most probably based on the perceived weakness of homosexuals and their preferences’ betrayal of the natural order”. Stephen Spender, however, “thought Orwell’s occasional homophobic outbursts were part of his rebellion against the public school”.[220]

Biographies of Orwell

Orwell’s will requested that no biography of him be written, and his widow Sonia Brownell repelled every attempt by those who tried to persuade her to let them write about him. Various recollections and interpretations were published in the 1950s and ’60s, but Sonia saw the 1968 Collected Works[138] as the record of his life. She did appoint Malcolm Muggeridge as official biographer, but later biographers have seen this as deliberate spoiling as Muggeridge eventually gave up the work.[221] In 1972, two American authors, Peter Stansky and William Abrahams,[222] produced The Unknown Orwell, an unauthorised account of his early years that lacked any support or contribution from Sonia Brownell.

Sonia Brownell then commissioned Bernard Crick, a left-wing professor of politics at the University of London, to complete a biography and asked Orwell’s friends to co-operate.[223] Crick collated a considerable amount of material in his work, which was published in 1980,[82] but his questioning of the factual accuracy of Orwell’s first-person writings led to conflict with Brownell, and she tried to suppress the book. Crick concentrated on the facts of Orwell’s life rather than his character, and presented primarily a political perspective on Orwell’s life and work.[224]

After Sonia Brownell’s death, other works on Orwell were published in the 1980s, with 1984 being a particularly fruitful year for Orwelliana. These included collections of reminiscences by Coppard and Crick[137] and Stephen Wadhams.[22]

In 1991, Michael Shelden, an American professor of literature, published a biography.[26] More concerned with the literary nature of Orwell’s work, he sought explanations for Orwell’s character and treated his first-person writings as autobiographical. Shelden introduced new information that sought to build on Crick’s work.[223] Shelden speculated that Orwell possessed an obsessive belief in his failure and inadequacy.

Peter Davison‘s publication of the Complete Works of George Orwell, completed in 2000,[225] made most of the Orwell Archive accessible to the public. Jeffrey Meyers, a prolific American biographer, was first to take advantage of this and published a book in 2001[226] that investigated the darker side of Orwell and questioned his saintly image.[223] Why Orwell Matters (released in the UK as Orwell’s Victory) was published by Christopher Hitchens in 2002.[227]

In 2003, the centenary of Orwell’s birth resulted in biographies by Gordon Bowker[228] and D. J. Taylor, both academics and writers in the United Kingdom. Taylor notes the stage management which surrounds much of Orwell’s behaviour,[8] and Bowker highlights the essential sense of decency which he considers to have been Orwell’s main motivation.[229][230]

Ancestry

Bibliography

Main article: George Orwell bibliography

Novels

Nonfiction

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell

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R. G. Belsky — The Kennedy Connection– A Gill Malloy Novel — Videos

Posted on December 27, 2016. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Drug Cartels, Fiction, Fraud, Homicide, Law, Life, Links, media, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Press, Psychology, Video, Wealth, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for bookcovers R. G. Belsky The kennedy connection

R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His new suspense thriller, BLONDE ICE, was published by Atria on October 18. It is the latest in a series of books from Atria featuring Gil Malloy, a hard-driving newspaper reporter with a penchant for breaking big stories on the front page of the New York Daily News. The first book in the Gil Malloy series – THE KENNEDY CONNECTION – was published in 2014 and SHOOTING FOR THE STARS came out in 2015. Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. At the Daily News, he also held the titles of metropolitan editor and deputy national editor. Before that, he was metropolitan editor of the New York Post and news editor at Star magazine. Belsky was most recently the managing editor for news at NBCNews.com. His previous suspense novels include PLAYING DEAD and LOVERBOY.  He was the Claymore Award winner at Killer Nashville 2016 and also a Silver Falchion Finalist.

Author R.G. Belsky on Celebrity Death Fascination

Interview with RG Belsky, author of Shooting for the Stars

About The Kennedy Connection

Picture

Half a century after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, someone is killing people on the streets of New York City and leaving behind a bizarre calling card of that tragic day in Dallas.

In this bold and entertaining thriller from a true media insider, discredited newspaper reporter Gil Malloy breaks the story of the link between seeming unconnected murders – a Kennedy half dollar found at each of the crime scenes. At the same time, a man emerges who claims to be the secret son of Lee Harvey Oswald and says he has new evidence that Oswald was innocent of the JFK killing.

Malloy,  who has fallen from grace at the New York Daily News and sees this as an opportunity redeem himself as an ace reporter, is certain there is a connection between the Oswald revelations and the NYC murders, but first he has to get someone to believe him. Convinced that the answers go all the way back to the JFK assassination more than fifty years ago, Malloy soon uncovers long-buried secrets that put his own life in danger from powerful forces who fear he’s getting too close to the truth.

Two tales of suspense fuse into an edge-of-your seat thriller as Malloy races to stop the killer—before it’s too late.


“A monstrous hurricane of conspiracy, lies and bodies…”The Kennedy Connection begs to be read from the first page to the last.”
— Killer Nashville

“Belsky has the newsman’s gift…..he tells his story well.”
— Jimmy Breslin

http://www.rgbelsky.com/

I’ve been a journalist for a long time. I worked at newspapers, magazines and TV news stations. Now I write mystery novels about a fictional journalist, New York City newspaper reporter Gil Malloy.

My old friends from the newsroom say to me: “Wow, you’ve got it easy these days. All you have to do at your job is make stuff up.”

Well, yes and no.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way about switching from journalism to novelist.


BelskyR-featured9781476762364This guest post is by R.G. Belsky. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His new suspense thriller is SHOOTING FOR THE STARS (Atria). It is the latest in a series of books featuring Gil Malloy, a hard-driving newspaper reporter with a penchant for breaking big stories on the front page of the New York Daily News. The first book in the Gil Malloy series – THE KENNEDY CONNECTION – was published in 2014 and an ebook novella titled THE MIDNIGHT HOUR came out in February 2015. Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. He was also metropolitan editor of the New York Post; news editor at Star magazine; and, most recently, managing editor for news at NBCNews.com.


1. FACTS ARE YOUR FRIEND

The most important thing a journalist does is make sure the facts are right. That’s a priority even over being first with the story. An inaccurate story is worse than no story. So I’ve spent most of my life checking and re-checking the facts of what I do. And I’m still doing that as a novelist, maybe more than ever. Because you don’t write fiction in a vacuum. It has to be based on some kind of facts, and those facts better be right. There’s an old newspaper adage that says the three most important things in any news story are: “accuracy, accuracy and accuracy.” I’ve followed that rule all my life, and I still do in my novels.

2. MIXING FACTS AND FICTION CAN BE TRICKY

Reporting the news is actually pretty straight-forward, if you think about it. Because it’s all about the facts. In a novel, some is fact and the rest is fiction. In my books, for instance, reporter Gil Malloy works at the New York Daily News, which is a real newspaper. But the characters and the stories are fictional. Sure, I make a lot up, but I have to be sure the basic facts about the Daily News – location, subways to get there, etc. – are right. The same with other locations. I can write a restaurant scene at Sardi’s as long as I put it at the right address. On the other hand, I can also make up a fictional newspaper or a fictional restaurant. But there are rules even then. If I make up a restaurant and put it at an address like 723 East 33rd Street, someone will be quick to point out that I’m eating in the middle of the East River.

 

3. YES, YOU GET TO MAKE STUFF UP

This is a pretty cool thing to be able to do. Don’t like your old boss? Write a boss character that has unpleasant things happen to him. Dumped by your girlfriend? Write her as a woman who is madly in love with your character. You get the idea, total freedom. My first Gil Malloy book, THE KENNEDY CONNECTION, was about him looking for answers to the JFK assassination. No way I could really have done that as a journalist. But, as a novelist, I created a fictional secret son of Lee Harvey Oswald with all sorts of blockbuster new evidence about Dallas. In SHOOTING FOR THE STARS, I do the same thing to reveal scandalous Hollywood secrets. I gotta tell you – after years of being a journalist who had to stick exactly to the facts – that is fun!

4. A JOURNALIST NEVER FACES A BLANK PAGE

One of the great things about the news is it never stops. There are new stories out there every day. It’s not always that easy for a novelist. There are times when you stare at a blank page with no idea what to say or how to say it. My trick – based on years as a journalist – is to set a deadline for myself. I pretend I’m back at a newspaper and I have to turn in 10 pages to the editor in the next hour. It actually works. At least for me. But then I’ve been chasing deadlines all my life.

5. DON’T RESEARCH TOO MUCH

Yes, I know this kind of runs counter to what I said about facts at the beginning. But you can become overly bogged down with facts in your fiction. Never forget you’re trying to write an exciting, entertaining story – which sometimes means giving a wink-and-a-nod to the facts and letting your imagination loose. Raymond Chandler used to talk about people complaining that his Philip Marlowe character wasn’t an accurate portrayal of what a private detective does. Chandler’s response was that, of course, real PIs don’t get hit over the head and shot at every day, but if he wrote about what they actually did – going over divorce papers at a desk, etc. – no would ever read his books.

6. TRUTH SOMETIMES IS STRANGER THAN FICTION

One of the things I’ve noticed at times is that some of the stories I worked on as a journalist are even wilder and more sensational and more compelling than anything I could ever dream up as a novelist. Take O.J. Simpson. Beloved football superstar, movie actor and TV ad pitchman becomes most hated person in America. Plus, the White Bronco chase, the Trial of the Century, the crazy cast of characters with Johnny Cochran, Kato Kaelin and all the rest. Then there’s the most famous headline I was ever involved with at the New York Post: Headless Body in Topless Bar. Hey, you can’t make that kind of stuff up.

 

7. JOURNALISM IS TODAY, NOVELS ARE FOREVER

One thing – good and bad – about being a journalist is the immediacy of the job. You can break the biggest story in the world, and your editor will still say to you at the end of the day: “So what do you got for tomorrow?” On the plus side, no matter how badly you screw up a story, there’s going to be another chance the next day for you to do your job better. Books don’t go away. They sit in bookstores for months and years sometimes, and in libraries even longer. So if you make a mistake in your book…well you’re just going to have to live with it for a long, long time.

8. JOURNALISM IS WORK , WRITING NOVELS IS FUN

Okay, maybe I overstated that a bit. Writing novels can be hard work too. But every day when I sit down in front of the computer to write my book, I know that I can do whatever I want. There are no rules in writing fiction except for the rules that you set for yourself. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] You don’t get that kind of freedom in a newsroom. People ask me what I like doing best – being a journalist or a novelist. My answer is both. I’ve had the two greatest jobs I can imagine. Covering the news for real and then creating a fictional journalist who does the same things I did – and a lot more – in my novels.

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/from-journalist-to-writing-novels-8-things-you-need-to-know

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Tom Wolfe — The Right Stuff — Videos

Posted on December 10, 2016. Filed under: American History, Art, Articles, Blogroll, Book, Books, College, Comedy, Communications, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Fiction, Heroes, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Money, Movies, Movies, Music, People, Philosophy, Photos, Press, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Video, War, Wisdom, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

The Right Stuff – The Bell X-1 (with Levon Helm as CPT Jack Ridley)

The Right Stuff (Part 2)

The Right Stuff (Part 3)

The Right Stuff (Part 4)

The Right Stuff (Part 5)

The Right Stuff (Part 6)

The Right Stuff (Part 7)

The Right Stuff (book)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff (book).jpg

First edition
Author Tom Wolfe
Country United States
Language English
Genre New Journalism
Non-fiction
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
1979
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 436 pages
ISBN 0-374-25032-4
OCLC 5007334
629.4/0973 19
LC Class TL789.8.U5 W64 1979

The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar research with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the first Project Mercury astronauts selected for the NASA space program. The Right Stuff is based on extensive research by Wolfe, who interviewed test pilots, the astronauts and their wives, among others. The story contrasts the “Mercury Seven[1] and their families with test pilots such as Chuck Yeager, who was considered by many contemporaries as the best of them all, but who was never selected as an astronaut.

Wolfe wrote that the book was inspired by the desire to find out why the astronauts accepted the danger of space flight. He recounts the enormous risks that test pilots were already taking, and the mental and physical characteristics—the titular “right stuff”—required for and reinforced by their jobs. Wolfe likens the astronauts to “single combat warriors” from an earlier era who received the honor and adoration of their people before going forth to fight on their behalf.

The 1983 film The Right Stuff is adapted from the book.

Writing and publication

First-state dust jacket, showing initial design never released in a public edition[2]

In 1972 Jann Wenner, the editor of Rolling Stone assigned Wolfe to cover the launch of NASA’s last moon mission, Apollo 17. Wolfe became fascinated with the astronauts, and his competitive spirit compelled him to try to outdo Norman Mailer‘s nonfiction book about the first moon mission, Of a Fire on the Moon. He published a four-part series for Rolling Stone in 1973 titled “Post-Orbital Remorse”, about the depression that some astronauts experienced after having been in space. After the series, Wolfe began researching the whole of the space program, in what became a seven-year project from which he took time to write The Painted Word, a book on art, and to complete Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, a collection of shorter pieces.[3]

In 1977 he returned to his astronaut book full-time. Wolfe originally planned to write a complete history of the space program, though after writing through the Mercury program, he felt that his work was complete and that it captured the astronauts’ ethos — the “right stuff” that astronauts and test pilots of the 1940s and 1950s shared — the unspoken code of bravery and machismo that compelled these men to ride on top of dangerous rockets. While conducting research, he consulted with General Chuck Yeager and, after receiving a comprehensive review of his manuscript, was convinced that test pilots like Yeager should form the backdrop of the period. In the end, Yeager becomes a personification of the many postwar test pilots and their “right stuff.”[4] The phrase itself may have originated in the Joseph Conrad story “Youth”, where it was used.

The Right Stuff was published in 1979 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and became Wolfe’s best selling book yet.[citation needed] It was praised by most critics, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.[5][6]

In the foreword to a new edition, published in 1983 when the film adaptation was released, Wolfe wrote that his “book grew out of some ordinary curiosity” about what “makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle… and wait for someone to light the fuse.”[7]

Book

The story is more about the space race than space exploration in general. The Soviet Union‘s early space efforts are mentioned only as background, focusing entirely on an early portion of the U.S. space program. Only Project Mercury, the first operational manned space-flight program, is covered. The Mercury Seven were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. Emphasis is given to the personal stories of the astronauts and their wives rather than the technical aspects of space travel and the flights themselves.

The storyline also involves the political reasons for putting people into space, asserting that the Mercury astronauts were actually a burden to the program and were only sent up for promotional reasons. Reasons for including living beings in spacecraft are barely touched upon, but the first option considered was to use a chimpanzee (and, indeed, chimpanzees were sent up first).

Another option considered were athletes already accustomed to physical stress, such as circus trapeze artists. Wolfe states that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, insisted on pilots, even though the first crew members would not actually fly the spacecraft. When Gus Grissom lands at sea and exits his space capsule, saving the capsule seems more important to the recovery team than saving the pilot because of the value of the data.

Wolfe contrasts the Seven with the Edwards AFB test pilots, among whom was Chuck Yeager, who was shut out of the astronaut program after NASA officials decided to use college-degreed pilots, not ones who gained their commissions as enlisted men, such as participants in the USAAF Flying Sergeants Program in World War II. Chuck Yeager spent time with Tom Wolfe explaining accident reports “that Wolfe kept getting all wrong.” Publishing insiders say these sessions between Wolfe and Yeager led Wolfe to highlight Yeager’s character, presence, thoughts, and anecdotes throughout the book. As an example, Yeager prides his speech to the Society of Test Pilots that the first rider in the Mercury development program would be a monkey, not a real test pilot, and Wolfe plays this drama out on the angst felt by the Mercury Astronauts over those remarks. Yeager himself downplayed the theory of “the right stuff,” attributing his survival of potential catastrophes to simply knowing his airplane thoroughly, along with some good luck.

Another test pilot highlighted in the book is Scott Crossfield. Crossfield and Yeager were fierce but friendly rivals for speed and altitude records.

Film adaptation

A 3-hour, 13-minute film stars Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Levon Helm, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed, Lance Henriksen, and the real Chuck Yeager in a cameo appearance. NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz also has a small role, playing “Gonzalez”. It features a score by composer Bill Conti.

The screenplay was adapted by Philip Kaufman from the book, with some contributions from screenwriter William Goldman (Goldman dissociated himself with the film after quarrelling with Kaufman about the story). The film was also directed by Kaufman.

While the movie took liberties with certain historical facts as part of “dramatic license”, criticism focused on one: the portrayal of Gus Grissom panicking when his Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft sank following splashdown. Most historians, as well as engineers working for or with NASA and many of the related contractor agencies within the aerospace industry, are now convinced that the premature detonation of the spacecraft hatch’s explosive bolts was caused by failure not associated with direct human error or deliberate detonation at the hands of Grissom.[citation needed]

This determination had, in fact, been made long before the movie was filmed, and even Tom Wolfe‘s book only states that this possibility was considered, not that it was actually judged as being the cause of the accident. In fact, Grissom was assigned to command the first flights of both Gemini and Apollo. Ironically, Grissom died in the Apollo 1 fire because there was no quick-opening hatch on the Block 1 Apollo Command Module – a design choice made because NASA had determined that the explosion in the hatch on Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 had been most likely self-initiated.[citation needed]

Another fact that had been altered in the film was the statement by Trudy Cooper, who commented that she “wondered how they would’ve felt if every time their husband went in to make a deal, there was a one-in-four chance he wouldn’t come out of that meeting.” According to the book, this actually reflected the 23% chance of dying during a 20-year career as a normal pilot. For a test pilot, these odds were higher, at 53%, but were still considerably less than the movie implied. In addition, the movie merely used the fictional Mrs. Cooper as a vehicle for the statement; the real Mrs. Cooper is not known to have said this.[8]

Wolfe made no secret that he disliked the film, especially because of changes from his original book. William Goldman, involved in early drafts of the script, also disliked the choices made by Kaufman, saying in his book Adventures in the Screen Trade that “Phil [Kaufman]’s heart was with Yeager. And not only that, he felt the astronauts, rather than being heroic, were really minor leaguers, mechanical men of no particular quality, not great pilots at all, simply the product of hype.”[9] Critics, however, generally were favorable toward the film.

References

Citations

  1. Jump up^ Wolfe 2001, p. 143. Note: Wolfe uses this term exactly once.
  2. Jump up^ The Right Stuff.” ABE books. Retrieved: 3 November 2009.
  3. Jump up^ Ragen 2001, pp. 22–26.
  4. Jump up^ Wolfe 1979, p. 368.
  5. Jump up^ Ragen 2001, p. 26–28.
  6. Jump up^ “National Book Awards – 1980”. National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
    This was the award for General Nonfiction (hardcover) during a period in National Book Awards history when there were many nonfiction subcategories.
  7. Jump up^ Wolfe 2001, Foreword.
  8. Jump up^ Wolfe 1979, p. 22.
  9. Jump up^ Goldman 1983

Bibliography

  • Bryan, C.D.B. “The Right Stuff (review).” New York Times, 23 September 1979.
  • Charity, Tom. The Right Stuff (BFI Modern Classics). London: British Film Institute, 1991. ISBN 0-85170-624-X.
  • Goldman, William (1989). Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting (reissue ed.). Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-39117-4.
  • Ragen, Brian Abel, ed. Tom Wolfe: A Critical Companion. West Port, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN 0-313-31383-0.
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979, ISBN 0-374-25032-4.
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Bantam, 1979, ISBN 0-553-24063-3.
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Bantam, 2001, 1979, ISBN 0-553-38135-0.

External links

Tom Wolfe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Thomas Wolfe or Tom Wolf (politician).
Tom Wolfe
Wolfe at White House.jpg

Wolfe at the White House on March 22, 2004
Born Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr.
March 2, 1931 (age 85)
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Occupation Journalist, author
Language English
Nationality American
Period 1959–present
Literary movement New Journalism
Notable works The Painted Word, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, A Man in Full, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, The Bonfire of the Vanities, I Am Charlotte Simmons, Back to Blood
Spouse Sheila Wolfe
Children 2

Thomas KennerlyTomWolfe, Jr. (born March 2, 1931)[1] is an American author and journalist, best known for his association with and influence over the New Journalism literary movement, in which literary techniques are used extensively and traditional values of journalistic objectivity and evenhandedness are rejected. He began his career as a regional newspaper reporter in the 1950s, but achieved national prominence in the 1960s following the publication of such best-selling books as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (a highly experimental account of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters), and two collections of articles and essays, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. His first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, published in 1987, was met with critical acclaim, became a commercial success, and was adapted as a major motion picture (directed by Brian De Palma).

Early life and education

Wolfe was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Louise (née Agnew), a landscape designer, and Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Sr., an agronomist.[2][3]

Wolfe grew up on Gloucester Road in the historic Richmond North Side neighborhood of Sherwood Park. He recounts some of his childhood memories of growing up there in a foreword to a book about the nearby historic Ginter Park neighborhood.

Wolfe was student council president, editor of the school newspaper and a star baseball player at St. Christopher’s School, an Episcopalian all-boys school in Richmond, Virginia.

Upon graduation in 1947, he turned down admission to Princeton University to attend Washington and Lee University, both all-male schools at the time; at Washington and Lee, Wolfe was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. Wolfe majored in English and practiced his writing outside the classroom as well. He was the sports editor of the college newspaper and helped found a literary magazine, Shenandoah. Of particular influence was his professor Marshall Fishwick, a teacher of American studies educated at Yale. More in the tradition of anthropology than literary scholarship, Fishwick taught his classes to look at the whole of a culture, including those elements considered profane. The very title of Wolfe’s undergraduate thesis, “A Zoo Full of Zebras: Anti-Intellectualism in America,” evinced his fondness for words and aspirations toward cultural criticism. Wolfe graduated cum laude in 1951.

Wolfe had continued playing baseball as a pitcher and had begun to play semi-professionally while still in college. In 1952 he earned a tryout with the New York Giants but was cut after three days, which Wolfe blamed on his inability to throw good fastballs. Wolfe abandoned baseball and instead followed his professor Fishwick’s example, enrolling in Yale University‘s American studies doctoral program. His PhD thesis was titled The League of American Writers: Communist Organizational Activity Among American Writers, 1929–1942.[4] In the course of his research, Wolfe interviewed many writers, including Malcolm Cowley, Archibald MacLeish, and James T. Farrell.[5] A biographer remarked on the thesis: “Reading it, one sees what has been the most baleful influence of graduate education on many who have suffered through it: it deadens all sense of style.”[6] His thesis was originally rejected but he finally passed by rewriting it being objective instead of subjective. Upon leaving Yale he wrote a friend explaining through expletives his personal opinions about his thesis.

Journalism and New Journalism

Though Wolfe was offered teaching jobs in academia, he opted to work as a reporter. In 1956, while still preparing his thesis, Wolfe became a reporter for the Springfield Union in Springfield, Massachusetts. Wolfe finished his thesis in 1957 and in 1959 was hired by The Washington Post. Wolfe has said that part of the reason he was hired by the Post was his lack of interest in politics. The Post’s city editor was “amazed that Wolfe preferred cityside to Capitol Hill, the beat every reporter wanted.” He won an award from The Newspaper Guild for foreign reporting in Cuba in 1961 and also won the Guild’s award for humor. While there, he experimented with fiction-writing techniques in feature stories.[7]

In 1962, Wolfe left Washington for New York City, taking a position with the New York Herald Tribune as a general assignment reporter and feature writer. The editors of the Herald Tribune, including Clay Felker of the Sunday section supplement New York magazine, encouraged their writers to break the conventions of newspaper writing.[8] During the 1962 New York City newspaper strike, Wolfe approached Esquire magazine about an article on the hot rod and custom car culture of Southern California. He struggled with the article until finally a desperate editor, Byron Dobell, suggested that Wolfe send him his notes so they could piece the story together.

Wolfe procrastinated until, on the evening before the article was due, he typed a letter to Dobell explaining what he wanted to say on the subject, ignoring all journalistic conventions. Dobell’s response was to remove the salutation “Dear Byron” from the top of the letter and publish it intact as reportage. The result, published in 1963, was “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” The article was widely discussed—loved by some, hated by others—and helped Wolfe publish his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a collection of his writings in the Herald-Tribune, Esquire, and other publications.[9]

This was what Wolfe called New Journalism, in which some journalists and essayists experimented with a variety of literary techniques, mixing them with the traditional ideal of dispassionate, even-handed reporting. More specifically, Wolfe experimented with four literary devices not normally associated with feature writing—scene-by-scene construction, extensive dialogue, multiple points of view, and detailed description of one’s status-life symbols (the materialistic choices one makes)—to produce this stylized form of journalism, which would later be commonly referred to as literary journalism.[10] Of status symbols, Wolfe has said, “I think every living moment of a human being’s life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is controlled by a concern for status.”[11]

Wolfe also championed what he called “saturation reporting,” a reportorial approach where the journalist “shadows” and observes the subject over an extended period of time. “To pull it off,” says Wolfe, “you casually have to stay with the people you are writing about for long stretches . . . long enough so that you are actually there when revealing scenes take place in their lives.”[12] Saturation reporting differs from “in-depth” and “investigative” reporting, which involve the direct interviewing of numerous sources and/or the extensive analyzing of external documents relating to the story. Saturation reporting, according to communication professor Richard Kallan, “entails a more complex set of relationships wherein the journalist becomes an involved, more fully reactive witness, no longer distanced and detached from the people and events reported.”[13]

One of the most striking examples of New Journalism is Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The book, an account of the adventures of the Merry Pranksters, a famous sixties counter-culture group, was highly experimental in its use of onomatopoeia, free association, and eccentric punctuation—such as multiple exclamation marks and italics—to convey the manic ideas and personalities of Ken Kesey and his followers.

In addition to his own forays into this new style of journalism, Wolfe edited a collection of New Journalism with E.W. Johnson, published in 1973 and titled The New Journalism. This book brought together pieces from Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, and several other well-known writers with the common theme of journalism that incorporated literary techniques and that could be considered literature.[14]

Non-fiction books

In 1965, a collection of his articles in this style was published under the title The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, and Wolfe’s fame grew. A second volume of articles, The Pump House Gang, followed in 1968. Wolfe wrote on popular culture, architecture, politics, and other topics that underscored, among other things, how American life in the 1960s had been transformed by post-WWII economic prosperity. His defining work from this era is The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (published the same day as The Pump House Gang in 1968), which for many epitomized the 1960s. Although a conservative in many ways and certainly not a hippie (in 2008, he claimed never to have used LSD and to have tried marijuana only once[15]) Wolfe became one of the notable figures of the decade.

In 1970, he published two essays in book form as Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers: “Radical Chic,” a biting account of a party given by Leonard Bernstein to raise money for the Black Panther Party, and “Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers,” about the practice of using racial intimidation (“mau-mauing”) to extract funds from government welfare bureaucrats (“flak catchers”). The phrase “radical chic” soon became a popular derogatory term for upper-class leftism. Published in 1977, Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine included one of Wolfe’s more famous essays, “The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening.”

Back row – Shepard, Grissom, Cooper; Front row – Schirra, Slayton, Glenn, Carpenter.
The astronauts of the Mercury Seven were the subject of The Right Stuff.

In 1979, Wolfe published The Right Stuff, an account of the pilots who became America’s first astronauts. Famously following their training and unofficial, even foolhardy, exploits, he likened these heroes to “single combat champions” of a bygone era, going forth to battle in the space race on behalf of their country. In 1983, the book was adapted as a successful feature film.

In 2016 Wolfe published The Kingdom of Speech, which is a controversial[16] critique of Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky.[17]

Art critiques

Wolfe also wrote two highly skeptical social histories of modern art and modern architecture, The Painted Word and From Bauhaus to Our House, in 1975 and 1981, respectively. The Painted Word mocked the excessive insularity of the art world and its dependence on what he saw as faddish critical theory, while From Bauhaus to Our House explored the negative effects of the Bauhaus style on the evolution of modern architecture.[18]

Made for TV movie

A fictional television movie appeared on PBS in 1977, “Tom Wolfe’s Los Angeles”, a suitably satirical story set in Los Angeles. Wolfe appears in the movie himself.[19][20]

Novels

Throughout his early career, Wolfe had planned to write a novel that would capture the wide spectrum of American society. Among his models was William Makepeace Thackeray‘s Vanity Fair, which described the society of 19th century England. Wolfe remained occupied writing nonfiction books and contributing to Harper’s until 1981, when he ceased his other work to concentrate on the novel.

Wolfe began researching the novel by observing cases at the Manhattan Criminal Court and shadowing members of the Bronx homicide squad. While the research came easily, the writing did not immediately follow. To overcome his writer’s block, Wolfe wrote to Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone, to propose an idea drawn from Charles Dickens and Thackeray. The Victorian novelists that Wolfe viewed as his models had often written their novels in serial installments. Wenner offered Wolfe around $200,000 to serialize his work.[21] The deadline pressure gave him the motivation he had hoped for, and from July 1984 to August 1985 each biweekly issue of Rolling Stone contained a new installment. Wolfe was later not happy with his “very public first draft”[22] and thoroughly revised his work. Even Sherman McCoy, the novel’s central character, changed: originally a writer, the book version cast McCoy as a bond salesman. Wolfe researched and revised for two years, and his The Bonfire of the Vanities was published in 1987. The book was a commercial and critical success, spending weeks on bestseller lists and earning praise from much of the literary establishment on which Wolfe had long heaped scorn.[23]

Because of the success of Wolfe’s first novel, there was widespread interest in his second. This novel took him more than 11 years to complete; A Man in Full was published in 1998. The book’s reception was not universally favorable, though it received glowing reviews in Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. An enormous initial printing of 1.2 million copies was announced and the book stayed at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for ten weeks. John Updike wrote a critical review for The New Yorker complaining that the novel “amounts to entertainment, not literature, even literature in a modest aspirant form.” This touched off an intense war of words in the print and broadcast media between Wolfe and Updike, John Irving, and Norman Mailer. In 2001, Wolfe published an essay referring to these three authors as “My Three Stooges.”

After publishing Hooking Up (a collection of short pieces, including the 1997 novella Ambush at Fort Bragg) in 2001, he followed up with his third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), which chronicles the decline of a poor, bright scholarship student from Alleghany County, North Carolina, in the context of snobbery, materialism, institutionalised anti-intellectualism and sexual promiscuity she finds at a prestigious contemporary American university. The novel met with a mostly tepid response by critics but won praise from many social conservatives, who saw the book’s account of college sexuality as revealing of a disturbing moral decline. The novel won a Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the London-based Literary Review, a prize established “to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel”. Wolfe later explained that such sexual references were deliberately clinical.

Wolfe has written that his goal in writing fiction is to document contemporary society in the tradition of John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, and Émile Zola.

In early 2008, it was announced that Wolfe was leaving his longtime publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His fourth novel, Back to Blood, was published in October 2012 by Little, Brown. According to The New York Times, Wolfe was paid close to US$7 million for the book.[24] According to the publisher, Back to Blood is about “class, family, wealth, race, crime, sex, corruption and ambition in Miami, the city where America’s future has arrived first.”[25]

Recurring themes

Several themes are present in much of Wolfe’s writing, including his novels. One such theme is male power-jockeying, which is a major part of The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, and I Am Charlotte Simmons as well as several of his journalistic pieces. Male characters in his fiction often suffer from feelings of extreme inadequacy or hugely inflated egos, sometimes alternating between both. He satirizes racial politics, most commonly between whites and blacks; he also highlights class divisions between characters. Men’s fashions often play a large part in his stories, being used to indicate economic status. Much of his recent work also addresses neuroscience, a subject which he admitted a fascination with in “Sorry, Your Soul Just Died,” one of the essays in Hooking Up, and which played a large role in I Am Charlotte Simmons—the title character being a student of neuroscience, and characters’ thought processes, such as fear, humiliation and lust, frequently being described in the terminology of brain chemistry. Wolfe also frequently gives detailed descriptions of various aspects of his characters’ anatomies.[26]

Two of his novels (A Man in Full and I Am Charlotte Simmons) feature major characters (Conrad Hensley and Jojo Johanssen, respectively) who are set on paths to self-discovery by reading classical Roman and Greek philosophy.

Law and banking firms in Wolfe’s writing often have satirical names formed by the surnames of the partners. “Dunning, Sponget and Leach” and “Curry, Goad and Pesterall” appear in The Bonfire of the Vanities, and “Wringer, Fleasom and Tick” in A Man in Full. Ambush at Fort Bragg contains a law firm called “Crotalus, Adder, Cobran and Krate” (all names or homophones of venomous snakes).

Some characters appear in multiple novels, creating a sense of a “universe” that is continuous throughout Wolfe’s fiction. The character of Freddy Button, a lawyer from Bonfire of the Vanities, is mentioned briefly in I Am Charlotte Simmons. A character named Ronald Vine, an interior decorator who is mentioned in The Bonfire of the Vanities, reappears in A Man in Full as the designer of Charlie Croker’s home.

A fictional sexual practice called “that thing with the cup” appears in several of his writings, including The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full and a (non-fiction) essay in Hooking Up.

The surname “Bolka” appears in three Wolfe novels—as the name of a rendering plant in A Man in Full, as a partner in an accounting firm in Bonfire of the Vanities, and as a college lacrosse player from the Balkans in I Am Charlotte Simmons.

The white suit

Wolfe adopted the white suit as a trademark in 1962. He bought his first white suit planning to wear it in the summer in the style of Southern gentlemen. However, he found that the suit he purchased was too heavy for summer use, so he wore it in winter, which created a sensation.[27] Wolfe has maintained this uniform ever since, sometimes worn with a matching white tie, white homburg hat, and two-tone shoes. Wolfe has said that the outfit disarms the people he observes, making him, in their eyes, “a man from Mars, the man who didn’t know anything and was eager to know.”[28]

Views

In 1989, Wolfe wrote an essay for Harper’s Magazine titled “Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast“, which criticized modern American novelists for failing to engage fully with their subjects, and suggested that modern literature could be saved by a greater reliance on journalistic technique. This attack on the mainstream literary establishment was interpreted as a boast that Wolfe’s work was superior to more highly regarded authors.[29]

Wolfe was a supporter of George W. Bush and said he voted for him for president in 2004 because of what he called Bush’s “great decisiveness and willingness to fight.” (Bush apparently reciprocates the admiration, having read all of Wolfe’s books, according to friends in 2005.[30]) After this fact emerged in a New York Times interview, Wolfe said that the reaction in the literary world was as if he had said, “I forgot to tell you—I’m a child molester.” Because of this incident, he sometimes wears an American flag pin on his suit, which he compared to “holding up a cross to werewolves.”[31]

Wolfe’s views and choice of subject material, such as mocking left-wing intellectuals in Radical Chic and glorifying astronauts in The Right Stuff, have sometimes led to his being labeled conservative,[32] and his depiction of the Black Panther Party in Radical Chic led to a member of the party calling him a racist.[33] Wolfe rejects such labels; in a 2004 interview, he said that his “idol” in writing about society and culture is Émile Zola, who, in Wolfe’s words, was “a man of the left” but “went out, and found a lot of ambitious, drunk, slothful and mean people out there. Zola simply could not—and was not interested in—telling a lie.”[32]

Asked to comment by the Wall Street Journal on blogs in 2007 to mark the tenth anniversary of their advent, Wolfe wrote that “the universe of blogs is a universe of rumors” and that “blogs are an advance guard to the rear.” He also took the opportunity to criticize Wikipedia, saying that “only a primitive would believe a word of” it. He noted a story about him in his Wikipedia entry at the time, which he said had never happened.[34]

Personal life

Wolfe lives in New York City with his wife Sheila, who designs covers for Harper’s magazine. They have two children, a daughter, Alexandra, and a son, Tommy.[35]

A writer for Examiner Magazine who interviewed Wolfe in 1998 said, “He has no computer and does not surf, or even know how to use, the Internet”, adding, however, that Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full does have a subplot involving “a muckraking cyber-gossip site, à la the Drudge Report or Salon.”[35]

Influence

Wolfe is credited with introducing the terms “statusphere,” “the right stuff,” “radical chic,” “the Me Decade,” “social x-ray,” and “pushing the envelope” into the English lexicon.[36][dubious ] He is sometimes credited with inventing the term “trophy wife” as well, but this is incorrect: he described emaciated wives as “X-rays” in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities but did not use the term “trophy wife”.[37] According to journalism professor Ben Yagoda, Wolfe is also responsible for the use of the present tense in magazine profile pieces; before he began doing so in the early 1960s, profile articles had always been written in the past tense.[38]

Terms coined by Wolfe

List of awards and nominations

Television appearances

  • Wolfe was featured as an interview subject in the 1987 PBS documentary series Space Flight.
  • In July 1975 Wolfe was interviewed on Firing Line by William F. Buckley, Jr., discussing “The Painted Word”.[44]
  • Wolfe was featured on the February 2006 episode “The White Stuff” of Speed Channel‘s Unique Whips, where his Cadillac‘s interior was customized to match his trademark white suit.[45]
  • Wolfe guest-starred alongside Jonathan Franzen, Gore Vidal and Michael Chabon in The Simpsons episode “Moe’N’a Lisa“, which aired November 19, 2006. He was originally slated to be killed by a giant boulder, but that ending was edited out.[46] Wolfe was also used as a sight gag on The Simpsons episode “Insane Clown Poppy“, which aired on November 12, 2000. Homer spills chocolate on Wolfe’s trademark white suit, and Wolfe rips it off in one swift motion, revealing an identical suit underneath.

Bibliograph

Non-fiction

Novels

Featured in

Notable articles

  • “The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!” Esquire, March 1965.
  • “Tiny Mummies! The True Story of the Ruler of 43rd Street’s Land of the Walking Dead!” New York Herald-Tribune supplement (April 11, 1965).
  • “Lost in the Whichy Thicket,” New York Herald-Tribune supplement (April 18, 1965).
  • “The Birth of the New Journalism: Eyewitness Report by Tom Wolfe.” New York, February 14, 1972.
  • “The New Journalism: A la Recherche des Whichy Thickets.” New York Magazine, February 21, 1972.
  • “Why They Aren’t Writing the Great American Novel Anymore.” Esquire, December 1972.
  • “The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening” New York, August 23, 1976.
  • Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast“, Harper’s. November 1989.
  • “Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died.” Forbes 1996.
  • “Pell Mell.” The Atlantic Monthly (November 2007).
  • “The Rich Have Feelings, Too.” Vanity Fair (September 2009).

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up^ This was the award for hardcover “General Nonfiction”. From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual awards for hardcover and paperback books in many categories, including several nonfiction subcategories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1980 General Nonfiction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Wolfe

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Mark Helprin — Memoirs From The Antproof Case — Winter’s Tale — Videos

Posted on July 28, 2016. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Book, Books, Culture, Entertainment, Fiction, Heroes, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Literature, media, Money, Movies, Music, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Press, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Reviews, Spying, Strategy, Technology, Terrorism, Video, Water, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , , , |

quote winter talememoirs from antproof casewinters tale 2winters talemark-helprin-1-sizedmark-helprin-author-photo-credit-lisa-kennedymark-helprin

This is a photo of Mark Helprin, a novelist, children's book author and editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. Handout photo. ..OUTSIDE TRIBUNE CO.- NO MAGS, NO SALES, NO INTERNET, NO TV, CHICAGO OUT, NO DIGITAL MANIPULATION...

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The Human Parade: Mark Helprin

Mark Helprin – Five Questions About Iran

Mark Helprin: In Sunlight and In Shadow

Mark Helprin: 2013 National Book Festival

Mark Helprin – A Soldier of the Great War – Part 1

Mark Helprin – A Soldier of the Great War – Part 2

159th Hillsdale College Commencement – Mark Helprin

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Neal Stephenson — Reamde — Videos

Posted on March 16, 2015. Filed under: Blogroll, Book, Books, Comedy, Communications, Corruption, Fiction, Islam, Language, Law, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Raves, Technology, Video, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Neal Stephenson interview – Reamde

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmrLQY06AzQ

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Gardner Mckay — Toyer — Videos

Posted on February 3, 2015. Filed under: American History, Art, Art, Blogroll, Books, College, Communications, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Fiction, Freedom, Friends, history, Language, liberty, Life, Links, Literature, media, Movies, People, Philosophy, Photos, Radio, Raves, Television, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Gardner Mckay

VANITY FAIR, DOMINICK DUNNE – “GARDNER MCKAY’S BRILLIANTLY INTRICATE NOVEL,TOYER, IS FRIGHTENING, FASCINATING, AND WONDERFULLY WELL WRITTEN.

THERE WERE TIMES READING IT WHEN I HAD TO PUT IT DOWN TO COLLECT MYSELF BEFORE PICKING IT UP AGAIN.”

JIMMY BUFFETT – “THE MOST EFFECTIVE, EXCITING, BIZARRE TALE POSSIBLE. IN TOYER,MCKAY HAS GIVEN US AN ARRAY OF VICTIMS WHO FALL INTO THE VENUS FLYTRAP OF A VILLAIN AS CUNNING AS RICHARD III AND A MANIACAL AS HANNIBAL LECTER.”

JAMES CAMERON – TOYER IS A NOVEL WHERE LOS ANGELES STARS AS ITSELF, THE CITY OF MASKS, WHERE RELATIONSHIPS PEEL THE ONION OF DARK REVELATION, AS TWO ADVERSARIES COUPLE IN A SEDUCTIVE DEATH-LOCK. GARDNER MCKAY HAS WOVEN A CHILLING AND DISTURBING DESCENT INTO THE CATACOMBS OF THE MIND.”

LEON BING – “WHOEVER PICKS UP GARDNER MCKAY’S NOVEL, TOYER, WILL KNOW, EARLY ON, THAT A MASTER HAS LAID HANDS ON THEM. THIS IS A BOOK OF SUCH SHEER, BRUTAL BRILLIANCE THAT THE READER OFTEN FEELS LIKE A PASSENGER TRAPPED ON A RUNAWAY TRAIN RACKETING ALONG A DOWNHILL TRACK.

MR. MCKAY IS A SUPERBLY ACCOMPLISHED WRITER; NOT SINCE HANNIBAL LECTER HAS THERE BEEN A LITERARY CHARACTER OF SUCH SILKEN AND ABSOLUTE MENACE AS TOYER.” –

THE NEW YORK TIMES – ”Connoisseurs – will appreciate the gorgeous imagery of McKay’s novel – the bizarre beauty of his writing.”

LOS ANGELES TIMES – “Anyone should make a beeline for  McKay’s novel.”

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICAL – “FIRST RATE.”

HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN, JOHN BERGER – “Almost impossible to put down. Read it once for the story. Read it at least twice more for the writing.”

LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE – BOOK PICK OF THE MONTH – ”Reminiscent of the best of classical L.A.noir – chilling.”

BOSTON GLOBE – “As bad as this title is as good as this book is. Slick, sensitive, brilliant.”

HONOLULU ADVERTISER, WANDA ADAMS – Insightful writing, unexpected plot, arresting asides, delicious evocations, and its unique take on a very much tried formula. [ I will ] read it again.”

HONOLULU WEEKLY, STUART COLEMAN – “ I couldn’t put it down.”

REDBOOK  MAGAZINE – PICK OF THE MONTH

JANE MAGAZINE –    “ * * * * *  –  Perfect.”

HONOLULU ADVERTISER  – # 1 BEST SELLER

WILLIAM SPEAR  (JUNEAU) – “A classy brain- clearing thriller.”

KATE JACKSON – “A stunning success. A wonderful book – brilliantly twisted.”

SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER – “A true psychological thriller that will leave the reader mentally drained.”

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Gardner McKay – Actor, Writer, Icon

Adventures in Paradise a Tribute to Gardner Mckay in photos

TOYER – Annabel & Andrew scene

“Toyer” by Gardner McKay

“Toyer” by Gardner McKay. Directed by Jon Gonzalez. Here’s a short play I directed. Starring Laya Hernandez and Zebastian Duchene.

Gardner McKay

Adventures in Paradise – Isle of Eden

An extract of the episode “Isle of Eden” of the “Adventures of Paradise” TV series, broadcasted on ABC TV in the USA on February 22nd 1960. Starring Gardner McKay, as Adam Troy, captain of the “Tiki, and as guest stars Yvonne De Carlo and Hugo Haas.

Sea Marks by Gardner McKay at The Irish Repertory Theatre

 

Adventures In Paradise Somewhere South of Suva part 2 Gardner Mckay 1960

Biography

copy-Gardner_pix.jpgGeorge Cadogan Gardner McKay was born in Manhattan, New York City, his early years were spent in France, Connecticut and Kentucky. He attended Cornell University where he edited the humor magazine, wrote a film review column for the paper, was briefly president of his class and rowed on their crew.

At age fifteen, he published his first story. His novel Toyer  won critical acclaim upon its release in 1998 and is currently in pre-production for a major motion film.

He has been awarded several prizes for his writing:- The Drama Critics Award for playwriting, The Sydney Carrington Prize. He won three National Endowment for the Arts grants for playwriting. Five of his play have been published by Samuel French Publishing Company, New York, Los Angeles, London: Sea Marks, Masters of the Sea, Toyer, Me, In Order of Appearance. His plays have been, and continue to be, produced in every state in the union and internationally.

Sea Marks won the National Regional Theatre Award in Canada. The Drama Critics Circle Award, best play of the year. And has been produced in NYC in six Off-Broadway productions; the Players Theatre (“Best Off- Broadway Play, Walter Kerr, New York Times) the Manhattan Theatre Club, and other theatres. It has been presented at the Eisenhower Theatre, The Kennedy Center in Washington D. C. The Edinburgh Festival and The Pitlochry Festival, Scotland. It has also been broadcast on B.B.C. Radio Theatre, London.

McKay’s play Toyer was first staged at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. – starring  Kathleen Turner and Brad Davis, directed by, Tony Richardson. It has also  been produced by Michael White in England – starring Rupert Graves,  and later in  London’s West End.

Other plays of his – in random order- of various lengths that have been produced are: – Untold Damage (PBS) Written and directed by Mr. McKay for PBS starring Richard Dreyfuss, Geraldine Fitzgerald, tracy Swope, Josh Bryant. It was cited as the best television production by the Television Theatre. Narcissa-Narcissus, Tapes, The Girl Next  Door is Screaming, The Suit, The Visitor, Meeting, Silver Eyes, The Honeyman, Yeats/Millay, Becker, The People we Kill, Alligators Have no Choice.

He was Drama critic and Drama editor for the Los Angeles Herald Tribune. During the time he was with the Herald he invented a method of review called the “Triple Review” three brief reviews of the same play by three writers. The lone newspaper’s  “Voice of the Critic” was hushed for these reviews and, instead, the review became an argument of the play’s worth on the forum of its pages.

He has taught playwriting at U.C.L.A at his Playwriting Roundtable. Later he taught playwriting and screenwriting at University of Southern California, Juneau Alaska, and the University of Hawaii.

During the ’70 and ‘80s he started a small professional group called the Playwrights’ Exchange. He personally constructed a 50-seat theatre off the kitchen of his L.A. house and every Tuesday playwrights gathered to see new work being read in whole or in fragments by professional actors. The theatre was named The Free Theatre, mainly because no money changed hands; emblematic of playwriting.

From 1995 – until his death in November 2001,  Gardner wrote and recorded stories for his weekly radio show “Stories on the Wind” which aired each Sunday.

McKay has also been a  sculptor ( several of his works are in the Museum of Modern Art, NYC and the Whitney Museum.) He has been a professional skipper, photographer, actor (Adventures in Paradise, Boots and Saddles), and has raised African lions.

http://gardnermckay.net/biography

 

Gardner McKay

George Cadogan Gardner McKay (June 10, 1932 – November 21, 2001) was an American actor, artist, and author.

Biography

Born in New York City, McKay was the great-grandson[1] of the shipbuilder Donald McKay. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York for two years,[2] where he majored in art. He became a Hollywood heartthrob in the 1950s and 1960s. He landed the lead role in Adventures in Paradise, based loosely on the writings of James Michener. His character, Adam Troy, is a Korean War veteran who purchased the two-masted 82-foot (25 m) schooner Tiki III, and sailed the South Pacific.

McKay was under contract to MGM when he was spotted by Dominick Dunne, then a television producer for Twentieth Century Fox, who was searching for an actor to star in his planned Adventures in Paradise. Dunne put his business card on the table and said, “If you’re interested in discussing a television series, call me.” McKay competed in screen tests with nine other candidates, and won it because of his good looks and ability to sail. An accomplished sailor, he had made eight Atlantic crossings by the age of seventeen. Although previously unknown to the public, McKay appeared on the July 6, 1959, cover of Life Magazine just two months before the series premiered.

In the 1957–1958 season, McKay played United States Army Lieutenant Dan Kelly in the 38-episode syndicatedwestern series, Boots and Saddles, with co-stars Jack Pickard and Patrick McVey.[3] Thereafter, he was cast in the episode “Showdown” of the NBC western, Jefferson Drum, with Jeff Richards.

McKay’s final film was the 1968 I Sailed to Tahiti with an All Girl Crew written and directed by Richard L. Bare.

McKay left Hollywood to pursue his interest in photography, sculpture, and writing. He turned down the opportunity to star opposite Marilyn Monroe in Something’s Got to Give, a film which was never completed. He exhibited his sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, besides holding individual exhibitions. His lifeboat rescue photographs of the Andrea Doria were published internationally. McKay wrote many plays and novels, and was a literary critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner between 1977 and 1982. He taught writing classes at the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Alaska, and the University of Hawaii. In 2014 his play Sea Marks was produced Off-Broadway at the Irish Repertory Theatre.

McKay’s awards included three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships for playwriting, the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, and Sidney Carrington Prize. He was a winner in Canadian Regional Drama Festival, and runner-up in the Hemingway Short Story Contest.

Last years

McKay settled in Hawaii, where he died from prostate cancer in 2001, at the age of sixty-nine. He was survived by his wife, Madeleine Madigan, a painter, and two children.

References

External links

Gardner McKay at the Internet Movie Database

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardner_McKay

 

Brian De Palma Toys With Toyer Again

By Claude Brodesser-Akner

 

Six years ago, reports surfaced that Brian De Palma would next be directing the diabolical Gardner McKay novel and stage play Toyer, which follows a “serial lunatic.” The Toyer doesn’t murder or rape his beautiful female victims, he “toys” with them, torturing them psychologically, then puttting them into a medically induced coma. (Sort of like what De Palma did to audiences in Snake Eyes … We kid, Brian!)

Anyway, without a capital crime to prosecute, the police and D.A. can only charge the Toyer with “mayhem,” and as they’re overwhelmed with hundreds of uncleared murder cases, the Toyer case becomes a lower priority. So a female neurologist who treats Toyer’s victims teams up with a newspaper editor to draw him out and bring him to justice.

This time, we’re told, Toyer really is happening, but as an indie financed via producers Tarak Ben Ammar, (who most famously produced Franco Zefferilli’s La Traviata) and the L.A.-based Scott Steindorff. Steindorff has brought heavyweight literature like Philip Roth’s The Human Stain and Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera to the screen, and tells Vulture that the film will be shooting in Venice, Italy, late this fall and into the early winter.

That’s a switch from the Gardner version, which is set in L.A., but should be far creepier: De Palma plans to set the mayhem against Venice’s famous Carnevale di Venezia, for which elaborate masks disguising one’s identity are traditionally worn on the street from St. Stephen’s Day (the day after Christmas) until the start of the Venitian Carnival (two weeks before Ash Wednesday). Steindorff says shooting during the actual Carnival (during February and March) would be logistically impossible. They plan to re-create their own Carnival on location.

“It has all the elements of suspense that Brian does so well in films likeBlow Out and Carrie,” Steindorff says, adding, “And by that I mean, it’s really frickin’ scary: I read the script on a plane, and I was still terrified.”

http://www.vulture.com/2010/08/vulture_exclusive_writer-direc.html

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Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life–Videos

Posted on April 16, 2011. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Culture, Diasters, Economics, Education, Employment, Entertainment, European History, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Investments, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Movies, People, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Raves, Regulations, Talk Radio, Taxes, Technology, Transportation, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Catcher in The Rye–J.D. Salinger Passes–Rest In Peace

Posted on January 28, 2010. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Communications, Culture, Education, Language, liberty, Life, People, Philosophy, Quotations, Video, Wisdom | Tags: , , |

 

“This fall I think you’re riding for – it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.”

~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Ch. 24

J.D. Salinger, Reclusive Literary Icon, Dies at 91

The Catcher in The Rye

Author, Recluse J.D. Salinger Dies

 

Michael Savage Reads Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – (Aired on November 2, 2009)

“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetary. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

~J.D. Salinger

“You’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”

Background Articles and Videos

J.D. Salinger

“…Jerome David “J. D.” Salinger (pronounced /ˈsælɪndʒər/; January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010) was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980.

Raised in Manhattan, Salinger began writing short stories while in secondary school, and published several stories in the early 1940s before serving in World War II. In 1948 he published the critically acclaimed story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his subsequent work. In 1951 Salinger released his novel The Catcher in the Rye, an immediate popular success. His depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers.[2] The novel remains widely read and controversial,[3] selling around 250,000 copies a year.

The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny: Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently. He followed Catcher with a short story collection, Nine Stories (1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled “Hapworth 16, 1924,” appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965.

Afterward, Salinger struggled with unwanted attention, including a legal battle in the 1980s with biographer Ian Hamilton and the release in the late 1990s of memoirs written by two people close to him: Joyce Maynard, an ex-lover; and Margaret Salinger, his daughter. In 1996, a small publisher announced a deal with Salinger to publish “Hapworth 16, 1924″ in book form, but amid the ensuing publicity, the release was indefinitely delayed. He made headlines around the globe in June 2009, after filing a lawsuit against another writer for copyright infringement resulting from that writer’s use of one of Salinger’s characters from Catcher in the Rye.[4]

Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010, at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire.[5][6]

…”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._D._Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye

“…The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of alienation and rebellion.[1] It has been translated into almost all of the world’s major languages.[2] Around 250,000 copies are sold each year, with total sales of more than sixty-five million.[3] The novel’s protagonist and antihero, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage rebellion.[4]

The novel was included on a 2005 Time Magazine list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923,[5] and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged[6][7][8] in the United States for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and teenage angst. It also deals with complex issues of identity, belonging, connection, and alienation.

Plot summary

The first-person narrative follows Holden Caulfield’s experiences in New York City in the days following his expulsion from Pencey Prep, a fictional college preparatory school in the fictional city of Agerstown, Pennsylvania.

Holden shares encounters he has had with students and faculty of Pencey, whom he criticizes as being superficial, or, as he would say, “phony”. After being expelled from the school for poor grades, Holden packs up and leaves the school in the middle of the night after an altercation with his roommate. He takes a train to New York, but does not want to return to his family and instead checks into the dilapidated Edmont Hotel. There, he spends an evening dancing with three tourist girls and has a clumsy encounter with a prostitute; he refuses to do anything with her and, after he tells her he just wants to talk, she becomes annoyed with him and leaves. However, he still pays her for her time. She demands more money than was originally agreed upon and when Holden refuses to pay he is beaten by her pimp, Maurice.

Holden spends a total of three days in the city, characterized largely by drunkenness and loneliness. At one point he ends up at a museum, where he contrasts his life with the statues of Eskimos on display. For as long as he can remember, the statues have been unchanging. These concerns may have stemmed largely from the death of his brother, Allie. Eventually, he sneaks into his parents’ apartment while they are away in order to visit his younger sister, Phoebe, who is nearly the only person with whom he seems to be able to communicate. Holden shares a fantasy he has been thinking about (based on a mishearing of Robert Burns’ Comin’ Through the Rye): he pictures himself as the sole guardian of numerous children running and playing in a huge rye field on the edge of a cliff. His job is to catch the children if they wander close to the brink; to be a “catcher in the rye”. After leaving his parents’ apartment, Holden then drops by to see his old English teacher, Mr. Antolini, in the middle of the night, and is offered advice on life and a place to sleep. Mr. Antolini tells Holden that it is the stronger man who lives humbly, rather than dies nobly, for a cause. This rebukes Holden’s ideas of becoming a “catcher in the rye,” a godlike figure who symbolically saves children from “falling off a crazy cliff” and being exposed to the evils of adulthood. During the speech on life, Mr. Antolini has a number of “highballs,” referring to a cocktail served in a highball glass. Holden’s comfort is upset when he wakes up in the night to find Mr. Antolini patting his head in a way that he perceives as “flitty.” There is much speculation on whether Mr. Antolini was making a sexual advance on Holden, and it is left up to the reader whether this is true. Holden leaves and spends his last afternoon wandering the city. He later wonders if his interpretation of Mr. Antolini’s actions was correct.

Holden intends to move out west; he relays these plans to his sister, who decides she wants to go with him. He refuses to take her, and when she becomes upset with him, he tells her that he will no longer go. Holden then takes Phoebe to the Central Park Zoo, where he watches with a melancholic joy as she rides a carousel. At the close of the book, Holden decides not to mention much about the present day, finding it inconsequential. He alludes to “getting sick” and living in a mental hospital, and mentions that he’ll be attending another school in September. Holden says that he has found himself missing Stradlater and Ackley (his former classmates), and the others—warning the reader that the same thing could happen to them. …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Catcher_in_the_Rye

Catching Salinger: Pencey Prep

 

JD Salinger Overview

 

OMFG CATCHER IN THE RYE!!!
 

The Catcher in the Rye, Part 1

The Catcher in the Rye, Part 2

The Catcher In The Rye Movie Preview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjeOvH0e9uA

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Charlie Rose – An hour with Michael Crichton

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Posted on November 6, 2008. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Climate, Economics, Films, Life, Links, People, Politics, Quotations, Raves, Reviews, Science, Technology, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

 Just heard on the internet that the writer Michael Crichton died.

Always enjoyed his books and movies and his intellectual honesty and courage.

He will be missed by millions of his readers. 

Michael Crichton, 1942-2008

 

‘Jurassic Park’ Author Michael Crichton Dies

 

Best-Selling Author Michael Crichton Dies

CBS) Best-selling author and filmaker Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles Tuesday, after a courageous and private battle against cancer, according to a statement released by his family. He was 66.

Crichton is best known as the author of “Jurassic Park” and the creator of “ER.” His most recent novel, “Next,” about genetics and law, was published in December 2006.

“While the world knew him as a great story teller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes,” the statement said. “He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.”

Through his books, Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way all could understand.

“He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world,” the statement added. …”

 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/05/print/main4575403.shtml

 

‘Jurassic Park’ author, ‘ER’ creator Crichton dies

“…He published “The Andromeda Strain” while he was still a medical student at Harvard Medical School. He wrote a story about a 19th-century train robbery, called “The Great Train Robbery,” and then directed the 1979 film version.

He also directed several other films, including “Westworld” (1973), “Coma” (1978), “Looker” (1981) and “Runaway” (1984).

In 1993, while working on the film version of “Jurassic Park” with Steven Spielberg, he teamed with the director to create “ER.” The NBC series set in a Chicago emergency room debuted in 1994 and became a huge hit, making a star of George Clooney. Crichton originally wrote the script for the pilot in 1974.

“Michael’s talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of ‘Jurassic Park,’ ” said Spielberg, a friend of Crichton’s for 40 years, according to The Associated Press. “He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. … Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.”

Crichton was “an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful,” “ER” executive producer John Wells told the AP. “No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation.”  …”

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/11/05/obit.crichton/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

 

Michael Crichton

John Michael Crichton, M.D. pronounced /ˈkraɪtən/ [1], (October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008[2][3]) was an American author, film producer, film director, medical doctor, and television producer best known for his science fiction and techno-thriller novels, films, and television programs. His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide. His works were usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology.

Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. He was the author of The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Disclosure, Timeline, State of Fear, Prey, and Next. He was also the creator of ER, but most famous for being the author of Jurassic Park, and its sequel The Lost World, both adapted into high grossing films and leading to the very successful franchise. …”

Fiction

Year Title Notes
1966 Odds On as John Lange
1967 Scratch One as John Lange
1968 Easy Go as John Lange
A Case of Need as Jeffery Hudson
(later rereleased as Crichton)
1969 The Andromeda Strain  
The Venom Business as John Lange
Zero Cool as John Lange
1970 Grave Descend as John Lange
Drug of Choice as John Lange
Dealing: Or the
Berkeley-to-Boston
Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues
written with brother,
Douglas Crichton;
published as Michael Douglas
1972 The Terminal Man  
Binary as John Lange
1975 The Great Train Robbery  
1976 Eaters of the Dead  
1980 Congo  
1987 Sphere  
1990 Jurassic Park  
1992 Rising Sun  
1994 Disclosure  
1995 The Lost World  
1996 Airframe  
1999 Timeline  
2002 Prey  
2004 State of Fear  
2006 Next  
2008 unreleased novel to be released on December 2[citation needed

 

Non-fiction

Apart from fiction, Crichton has written several other books based on scientific themes, amongst which is Travels, which also contains autobiographical episodes.

As a personal friend to the artist Jasper Johns, Crichton compiled many of his works in a coffee table book also named Jasper Johns. That book has been updated once.

Crichton is also the author of Electronic Life, a book that introduces BASIC programming to its readers. In his words, being able to program a computer is liberation:

In my experience, you assert control over a computer—show it who’s the boss—by making it do something unique. That means programming it….[I]f you devote a couple of hours to programming a new machine, you’ll feel better about it ever afterward.[10]

To prove his point, Crichton included many self-written demonstrative Applesoft (for Apple II) and BASICA (for IBM PC compatibles) programs in that book. Crichton once considered updating it, but the project seems to be canceled.

His non-fiction works are:

Year Title
1970 Five Patients
1977 Jasper Johns
1983 Electronic Life
1988 Travels

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Crichton

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The Andromeda Strain (1971) TRAILER

 

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Charlie Rose – CRICHTON (FROM 11/26/02) / RIPERT

Charlie Rose: November 16, 1999

 

First, a dialogue with best-selling author Michael Crichton about his love of storytelling, huge success with the “Jurassic Park” series, and work on the television show “E.R.” He also introduces his book “Timeline”, in which characters employ quantum teleportation to journey to the time of the Hundred Years’ War.

 

Charlie Rose: December 26, 1996

An interview with author and screenwriter Michael Crichton about his book about an airline accident, “Airframe”. He also talks about the role of the media during wartime and during accidents such as the one portrayed in his book.

 

Charlie Rose: January 14, 1994
Interview with Michael Crichton

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