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*George Orwell – Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters. My Country Right or Left

George Orwell - The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters

George Orwell - The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters



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The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell

Volume II: My Country Right or Left 1940-1943

by George Orwell

Edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus

Back Cover:

“He was a man, like Lawrence, whose personality shines out in everything he said or wrote.” — Cyril Connolly

George Orwell requested in his will that no biography of him should be written. This collection of essays, reviews, articles, and letters which he wrote between the ages of seventeen and forty-six (when he died) is arranged in chronological order. The four volumes provide at once a wonderfully intimate impression of, and a “splendid monument” to, one of the most honest and individual writers of this century — a man who forged a unique literary manner from the process of thinking aloud, who possessed an unerring gift for going straight to the point, and who elevated political writing to an art.

The second volume principally covers the two years when George Orwell worked as a Talks Assistant (and later Producer) in the Indian section of the B.B.C. At the same time he was writing for Horizon, New Statesman and other periodicals. His war-time diaries are included here.

Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia

First published in England by Seeker & Warburg 1968

Published in Penguin Books 1970

Reprinted 1971

Copyright © Sonia Brownell Orwell, 1968

Made and printed in Great Britain by
Hazell Watson & Viney Ltd, Aylesbury, Bucks
Set in Linotype Times

This book is sold subject to the condition
that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise,
be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated
without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of
binding or cover other than that in which it is
published and without a similar condition
including this condition being imposed
on the subsequent purchaser



A Note on the Editing


Orwell and his adopted son Richard (1946)

Orwell and his adopted son Richard (1946)


The editors wish to express their grateful thanks to the following institutions and libraries, their trustees, curators and staffs for their co-operation and valuable help and for making copies of Orwell material available: Sir Frank Francis, Director and Principal Librarian of the British Museum (for: II: 37; III: 105; IV: 8); Dr John D. Gordan, Curator of the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations (for: 1:18, 22, 23, 31, 33, 36, 38, 48, 50-52, 54, 58, 60, 61, 73, 75, 76, 86, 92, 98, 108, 112, 116, 121, 124, 128, 133, 139, 140, 141, 146, 154; III: 53, 97, 106; IV: 29, 59, 92, 95, 100, 106, 107, 110, 115, 121, 126, 136, 137, 142, 144, 159, 164, 165); Dr Warren Roberts, Director of the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas (for: I: 65, 66, 79, 102, 122, 123, 161; II: 4, 6, 10, 50; III: 52); S. C. Sutton, Librarian and Keeper of India Office Records (for: I: 115); Robert L. Collison, Librarian of the B.B.C. Library (for: II: 38, 39, 52); Dr G. Chandler, Librarian of Liverpool City Library (for: 1: 94); Wilbur Smith, Head of the Department of Special Collections, Library of the University of California, Los Angeles (for: I: 84); Anne Abley, Librarian of St Anthony’s College, Oxford (for: IV: 31, 32); and J. W. Scott, Librarian of University College, London, for the material in the George Orwell Archive.

We are also deeply indebted to all those recipients of letters from Orwell, or their executors, who have been kind enough to make available the correspondence published in these volumes.

We would like to thank the following publications for permission to reproduce material first published in their pages: Commentary; Encounter; the Evening Standard; Forward; Life; the Listener; the London Magazine; the Manchester Evening News; the New Leader (N.Y.); the New Statesman and Nation; the New Yorker; the New York Times Book Review; the Observer; Partisan Review; Peace News; the Socialist Leader; Time and Tide; The Times; Tribune; Wiadomosci.

We would like to thank the following for allowing us to use material whose copyright they own: the executors of the late Frank Richards for his ‘Reply to George Orwell’ in Horizon; H. W. Wilson & Co. for Orwell’s entry in Twentieth Century Authors; George Allen & Unwin Ltd for “The Rediscovery of Europe” from Talking to India; Professor George Woodcock and D. S. Savage for their contributions to the controversy “Pacifism and the War” in Partisan Review; Dr Alex Comfort for his contribution to the same controversy and for his “Letter to an American Visitor” in Tribune; William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd for The English People; the executors of the late James Agate for his contribution to the controversy in the Manchester Evening News; the executors of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Oxford University Press for “Felix Randal”; Elek Books Ltd for the Introduction to Jack London’s Love of Life; Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd for the Introduction to Leonard Merrick’s The Position of Peggy Harper and the executors of the late Konni Zilliacus for his letters to Tribune.

We would like to thank the following for their co-operation and invaluable help; Mrs Evelyn Anderson, the Hon. David Astor, Frank D. Barber, Dennis Ceilings, Dr Alex Comfort, Jack Common, Lettice Cooper, Stafford Cottman, Humphrey Dakin, Mrs John Deiner, Mrs William Dunn, Mrs T. S. Eliot, Dr McDonald Emslie, Faber and Faber Ltd, Mr and Mrs Francis Fierz, Roy Fuller, T. R. Fyvel, Livia Gollancz, Victor Gollancz Ltd, Mrs Arthur Goodman, A. S. F. Gow, James Hanley, Rayner Heppenstall, Inez Holden, Mrs Humphrey House, Mrs Lydia Jackson, Frank Jellinek, Dr Shirley E. Jones, Jon Kimche, Denys King-Farlow, Arthur Koestler, Mrs Georges Kopp, James Laughlin, F. A. Lea, John Lehmann, John McNair, Michael Meyer, Henry Miller, Raymond Mortimer, Mrs Middleton Murry, Mrs Rosalind Obermeyer, Laurence O’Shaughnessy, Partisan Review, Professor R. S. Peters, Ruth Fitter, Joyce Pritchard, Philip Rahv, Sir Herbert Read, Vernon Richards, the Rev. Herbert Rogers, the Hon. Sir Steven Runciman, Brenda Salkeld, John Sceats, Roger Senhouse, Stephen Spender, Oliver Stallybrass, Professor Gleb Struve, Julian Symons, F. J. Warburg and Professor George Woodcock. We would also like to thank: Angus Calder (for allowing us to consult his unpublished thesis on the Common Wealth Party); Howard Fink (for allowing us to consult his unpublished Chronology of Orwell’s Loci and Activities); and I. R. Wilson (whose George Orwell: Some Materials for a Bibliography, School of Librarianship, London University, 1953, was indispensable).

Finally, this edition would not have been possible but for the patient and understanding editorial help of Aubrey Davis and the support and help of the Library staff of University College London, particularly that of J. W. Scott, the Librarian, Margaret Skerl, Karen Bishop, Mrs Michael Kraushaar and Mrs Gordon Leitch.

A Note on the Editing

The contents are arranged in order of publication except where the time lag between writing and appearance in print is unusually large, when we have chosen the date of writing. There are one or two rare exceptions to this rule, generally made for the sake of illustrating the development in Orwell’s thought, but a note at the end of each article or review states when, and in which publication, it appeared first. If it was not published or the date of writing has determined its position, the date of writing is given. Where there is no mention of a periodical at the end of an article, it has never been published before. “Why I Write”, written in 1946, has been placed at the beginning of Volume I, as it seems a suitable introduction to the whole collection. Where an article was reprinted in the major collections of his writing, this has been indicated and the following abbreviations used for the various books: C.E., Collected Essays; Cr.E., Critical Essays; D.D., Dickens, Dali and Others; E.Y.E., England Your England; I .T .W.,Inside the Whale; O.R.,The Orwell Reader; S.E., Shooting an Elephant; S.J., Such Were the Joys.

Any title in square brackets at the head of an article or review has been supplied by us. All the others are either Orwell’s own or those of the editors of the publication in question. He certainly wrote his own titles for his Tribune pieces: some of the others read as if he had written them but with most it is hard to tell and there is no way of finally checking.

Only when the article has never been printed before have we had the manuscript to work from and none of these were revised by Orwell as they would have been had he published them. With everything else we have had to use the text as it appeared in print. As anyone who has ever done any journalism or book reviewing knows, this means the text which appears here may well be slightly, if not very, different from the text Orwell originally wrote. Editors cut, printers make errors which are not thought of as very important in journalism, and it is only when the writer wants to reprint his pieces in book form that he bothers to restore the cuts, correct the errors and generally prepare them to survive in more lasting form: the reader therefore should bear in mind that they might well be very different if Orwell had revised them for re-publication. Both to these previously printed essays and journalism and to the hitherto unpublished articles and diaries we have given a uniform style in spelling, quotation marks and punctuation.

The letters were written, nearly always in haste, with scant attention to style and hardly any to punctuation; but throughout them we have corrected spelling mistakes, regularized the punctuation and have put book and periodical titles in italics. In a few cases postscripts of an unimportant nature have been omitted without indication. Otherwise cuts in both the letters and the journalism have been indicated by three dots, with a fourth dot to indicate a period. The same method was used by Orwell for indicating omissions when abridging excerpts he was quoting in reviews and essays, but as we have not made cuts in any of these excerpts there should be no confusion between our cuts and Orwell’s own.

Orwell’s “As I Please” column often consisted of two or more sections each devoted to a specific topic. Whenever one of the self-contained sections has been entirely omitted, this has not been indicated, but any cut made within a section is indicated by the usual three or four dots.

George Orwell never legally changed his name from Eric Blair and all the friends he made when young knew him and addressed him as Eric Blair. Later on new friends and acquaintances knew him and addressed him as George Orwell. In his letters he signs himself by the name his correspondent used. His earlier articles were signed E. A. Blair or Eric Blair and we have indicated these. From the moment this name is dropped in his published writing it is entirely signed George Orwell. Where a footnote deals with a period or a situation in which he would have looked upon himself primarily as Eric Blair we have referred to him by this name.

As this is an Anglo-American edition, many of the footnotes have been provided for the benefit of American readers and contain information we know to be familiar to English readers. We have put in the minimum of footnotes. This is largely because of the great difficulty of annotating the history of the period during which he wrote. It is still too recent for standard histories of it to exist and the events and people he discussed are often still the subjects of fierce polemic making it difficult to give an “objective” footnote. We have only footnoted the text in some detail where he talks about people or events in his personal life or where there is a reference to some topic about which the reader could find nothing in any existing book of reference. The numbers in the cross-references in the footnotes refer to items, not pages.


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