I now find it impossible to imagine that what Orwell put poor Winston Smith through in Room 101 and the unrecorded dungeons of Oceania was not in some way extrapolated from his own physical ruin.
Orwell shared with Dickens a hatred of tyranny, and in his essay on the Victorian novelist distinguished two types of revolutionary. There are on the one hand the change-of-heart people, who believe that if you change human nature, all the problems of society will fall away; and, on the other, the social engineers, who believe that once you fix society—make it fairer, more democratic, less divided—then the problems of human nature will fall away.
Although Waugh despaired about the future, he saw the Catholic Church as an enduring bulwark against chaos. His moral order was backed by divine authority. Orwell too was a passionate believer in objective truth, including moral truth. But unlike Waugh, Orwell did not attribute transcendent power to the truth; indeed, he feared that it might ultimately prove impotent in history.
Orwell had fought in the Spanish civil war; his disillusion with that cause is chronicled in “Homage to Catalonia”. Waugh was part of an ill-fated military mission to the cynical, wily Communist partisans in Yugoslavia. His disillusion is told in his masterpiece, the “Sword of Honour”
Animal Farm and Brideshead Revisited, published in the same year of 1945, might seem worlds apart, and yet both are biting parables of disenchantment.
Eternal vigilance, by Keith Gessen, New Statesman, May 28, 2009, on essays by George Orwell
Orwell's masterpiece-far superior to Animal Farm and 1984. No education in the meaning of the 20th century is complete without it.
Orwell's "Catalonia" revisited by Anthony Daniels, The New Criterion, February 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)
Orwell for Christians, by Paul J. Griffiths, First Things, December 2004
Why George Orwell Was Pro-Life, by Mark Stricherz, Crisis, January 2004
Orwell on writing, by Jeffrey Meyers, The New Criterion, October 2003
Orwell's List, by Timothy Garton Ash, The New York Review of Books, September 25, 2003
Reach-Me-Down Romantic, review by Terry Eagleton of George Orwell by Gordon Bowker, Orwell: The Life by D.J. Taylor, and Orwell: Life and Times by Scott Lucas, London Review of Books, June 19, 2003
Bullied George Orwell 'killed' Eton boy using black magic, by Catherine Milner, The Telegraph, May 18, 2003
Honest, Decent, Wrong: The invention of George Orwell, by Louis Menand, New Yorker, January 27, 2003
The Independent of London, by George Packer, New York Times, September 29, 2002
George Orwell: changing the climate, review by David Pryce-Jones, of Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation, by Jeffrey Meyers, The New Criterion, November 2000
George Orwell and the Cold War: A Reconsideration, by Murray N. Rothbard, from Reflections on America, 1984: An Orwell Symposium, edited by Robert Mulvihill, 1986
Our Future, review by Murray N. Rothbard of 1984, Analysis, September 1949