Monday, 21 January 2013

Orwell Day: The Party

Today is the first Orwell Day.
There's a season of programmes starting on Radio 4.
Not sure what we're supposed to do beyond that.
George Orwell was a hero when I was a kid - partly because his were just about the only left-wing books I could find in Chalfont St Peter.
Not sure what I make of him now; Eton-educated, homophobic, state snitch, "a Trotskyist with big feet".
I think I kind of wanted to be him.
Though I knew I'd more likely end up like Winston Smith; alone, poor, embittered, alienated, writing angry streams of rubbish to no-one, crying gin-scented tears while the tobacco falls out of my Victory Cigarettes.
Funny how things turn out.

PS Think I'll read Homage To Catalonia, his only great work that hasn't been hijacked by the right. The fool. I'm not sure many people really listened to Orwell - we all think power-worship and propaganda are things that only other people fall for. While Animal Farm and 1984 are used to psych us up for Hate Week.

Update: Apropos of nothing much The Observer published this essay by Orwell on Oscar Wilde's The Soul Of man Under Socialism. It doesn't mention his disgusting personal life...


  1. Was Orwell homophobic?

    I recall two occasions when he mentioned the subject. Once in '1984', where some of Smith's fellow prisoners at the Ministry of Love are homosexuals - and are regarded with contempt by other prisoners.

    The other is in the article on saucy seaside postcards, where he notes that homosexuality is absolutely never acknowledged.

    Both references are passing, and if there any implicit attitude at all, it's against homophobia.

    If you know better, please say.

    1. He was as obsessed as only an ex-public school boarder could be.
      See, for example, endless disparaging comments in Down & Out, and the conclusion of Wigan Pier - which is basically an attack on Edward Carpenter, who he called "a pious sodomite"...

    2. He also criticised Auden's circle in similar terms, I think.

    3. Also, it's interesting that you attribute his homophobia to the fact he was an ex-public school boarder.
      Do you put all of his objectionable traits down to that and all of his brilliant traits down to something more personal? :p

  2. Homage To Catalonia, page 18.

    We hear the battle cry; "Fascistas - maricones!" ["Fascists - faggots!"]

    Mind you I recall there's a bit later on where a handsome young Spanish lad becomes rather attached to George - Lawrence of Arabia style.

  3. He can't be held resposible for everything they shouted as a battle cry. He reported honestly, that's the main thing about him. He said it exactly as he felt it. He called Spender a pansy I think, then met him, liked him and aologised. It was part of the vocabulary of his time too. In Down & Out its a bit anti-semitic in a way. Fact remains if everyone were like Orwell there would have been no Holocaust. I read somewhere the Spanish Left was very 'macho' too, that that fuelled some of their hatred of the priests who were not real men in their eyes. They didn't trust them around their women either. Saw them as con-men. No-one is perfect, but at least Orwell was as honest as he could be.

    1. He referred to Auden and friends as "nancy poets"...

      "I am not one of your fashionable pansies like Auden and Spencer."

      Seems more like he was intellectually and morally opposed to it, rather than it being just a byproduct of his schooling...

  4. Who makes the Nazis?...