Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell (born June 25, 1903; Bihar – January 21, 1950 London) is an English novelist, journalist and critic who is among the leading authors of 20th-century English literature. He is best known for his world-famous novel One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-Four and the concept of Big Brother he created in this novel. The clarity, intelligence, awareness against social injustice and stance against totalitarianism in his works are his signatures.
Orwell’s life is full of experiences that would later influence his writing. After graduating from Eton College, where he studied with a scholarship, he was in Burma, which was a British colony at the time, and served in the police force there for a short time. The ruthless practices he witnessed during this civil service period contributed to the deep anger he developed against imperialism.
He was in France during his youth, worked in various professions, and his money problem did not leave his collar both before he started writing and in the years when he wrote his first works.
Orwell’s first novel is Five Pennies in Paris and London, whose autobiographical nature is still a matter of debate. In this work, published in 1933, events are narrated through the mouth of a character whose name is never mentioned. The protagonist of the work is a young man who is about to teach English in Paris and who is unemployed and penniless after his students leave the classes with various excuses. The protagonist, who suffers from hunger for days, spends the morning on the street, finally finds a job in the hotel kitchen and then in the dishwasher of a restaurant, finally goes to London as the instructor of a mentally disabled child.
However, misfortune and poverty haunt you here as well. He learns that his employer’s family is going on vacation, and is forced to spend their return as a homeless tramp, hungry on the roads, and spending the morning in dormitories reserved for the powerless.
After this work, which depicts the two great capitals of Europe through the eyes of a person at the lowest level of society, Burma Days (1934) and the unpopular Priest’s Daughter (1935) come.
Orwell’s second milestone in literary life was his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, which had much in common with his later novel Coming Up For Air. In this work, Orwell holds up a mirror to the life of the low-income middle-classman, of which he is a part; it rebels against the problem of livelihood and uniformity, which gradually drains and renders meaningless the lives of those who belong to this class, killing their hopes and dreams one by one.
In 1937, Orwell wrote The Road to Wigan Pier, a survey of the lives of miners. His writings, however, would be interrupted for a time after this date; for in the south, in Spain, the drums of war began to be beaten.
Orwell travels to Spain, joining volunteers to fight against Franco, who attempted a coup in Spain and had the support of Hitler and Mussolini. He would later recount his memories of the war in his Salute to Catalonia. In the notes found among Orwell’s documents after his death, he describes his first visit to Spain as follows:
I joined the POUM militia at the end of 1936. The main reasons why I joined this militia and not someone else were as follows: I intended to go to Spain in order to gather material for my newspaper articles. There was also an ambiguous thought in my head that if it seemed worth fighting, maybe I would fight. However, given my diseased constitution and relatively little military experience, I was very skeptical about fighting.
Orwell was fascinated by what he saw: the revolutionary organizations that clashed with the coup plotters, especially the socialists and anarcho-socialists, seemed to have established a whole new order in Spain. Prostitution has been eliminated, beggars have disappeared from the streets. Many goods in the market are distributed free of charge to those in need. The new system affects every detail of social life: no one pronounces words that imply superiority, such as a seigneur, and it is forbidden to leave tips.
Orwell goes to the front and is then shot in the throat by a sniper bullet. Narrowly escaping death, he is sent to the rear and when he first arrives in Spain, he witnesses that the order he saw has been completely destroyed. In his opinion, this is the work not only of the Spanish bourgeoisie, but also of Stalin, who found the beginning of an untimely movement of social revolution in Europe objectionable from the point of view of the policies of the “united front against fascism”.
Soon after, the Spanish Communist Party, which had close ties to the Soviet Union, embarked on a political cleansing movement. The POUM (Marxist Workers’ Union Party) was outlawed, many foreign soldiers were arrested or—like Orwell—forced to flee the country.
Although Orwell described himself as a humanist and atheist and was an intense critic of religions, he actively participated in the Church of England throughout his life. Orwell also frequently read Bible literature, quoting from his memory from the Church of England’s prayer book. Orwell, who married both according to Anglican law, wanted his funeral to be held in accordance with Anglicanism. Yet the fact that Orwell is so far removed from religion is associated with his being so interested in the Bible and spirituality. In his autobiography, Orwell writes, “Until the age of 14, I blindly believed in God and what he allegedly said, but I was completely sure that I did not love Him.”
Throughout his life, Orwell was known for his criticism of religions, mostly Christianity. Orwell called it selfish for the church, which has so much influence on people’s lives, to be so detached from the people. Orwell, who was also known for his skeptical approach to Christianity during his years in Eton, was also described as “anti-Catholic” by some circles. Evelyn Waugh wrote that Orwell was a very moral and justice-abiding person, but that she tried not to bring religion into her life in any way.
Although Orwell is known to have opposed the conservative political impositions of the status quo, he was a man of adherence to family values and British culture and traditions. Orwell, who also criticizes his own views in his books; He criticized his urban life in The Priest’s Daughter, his middle-class complex in Aspidistra, his colonial past in Burma Days, and his socialist comrades in Road to Wigan Pier.
In his writings in Adelphi, he called himself an anarchist Tory, stating that although he was an anarchist, he was no different from an English conservative. Orwell, who criticized censorship in art in his early writings, attributed it to the fact that the moral and conservative values of the puritan middle class were higher than those of the aristocratic class. In the newspaper Le Progrès Civique, Orwell, himself a colonial Burmesean born, sharply criticized the tyrannical and despotic rule of the British imperial rule in the Raj.
World War II
At a time when Nazi Germany was becoming aggressive with the Munich Agreement, George Orwell took an anti-war stance. He was completely opposed to Britain’s major war with the Germans and argued that the Germans should not be treated aggressively, but he changed this position after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the partition of Poland. After the signing of the pact, he left his party, which still held an anti-war stance, and began to call himself a “revolutionary patriot.” Orwell, writing in the pro-Labour newspaper “Tribune” in December 1940; He said that in times of war, every revolutionary should be a patriot and every patriot should be a revolutionary. Orwell was also diametrically opposed to his country allying the Soviets, expressing views that he never believed that a possible Anglo-Soviet alliance would bring about world peace after the war, the correctness of which would be understood during the Cold War.
Orwell discussed the pressure on sexual identities in a satirical way in his 1984 book. Elaborating on the repressive rule of 1984 in a way that even opposed romantic and sexual relations and supported artificial insemination to the fullest, Orwell nevertheless criticized the libertarian attitude of middle-class revolutionaries of the time to sexual orientations and publicly stated that he was homophobic. Orwell, who often mocks and mocks homosexual and bisexual leftist thinkers as “soft leftists” or “custard children,” also used homophobic interpretations in his book Aspidistra.
Orwell worked for the Observer newspaper throughout World War II; He died in 1945 after a failed surgery by his wife Eileen Blair, remarrying Sonia Orwell (née Brownell) in a hospital bed shortly before his death. Although he became quite famous after Animal Farm and his financial difficulties ended, tuberculosis, which he was kept in poverty days, caused him to spend most of the last period of his life in hospitals.
He died on the early morning of 21 January 1950 at University College Hospital, London, where he spent his last months after a vessel burst in his lung, leaving behind ten books and numerous articles, ending his life at the age of forty-six.
As of January 1, 2021, 70 years have passed since his death, the copyrights of his works have expired.
1934 – Burmese Days
1935 – A Clergyman’s Daughter
1936 – Keep the Aspidistra Flying
1939 – Coming Up for Air
1945 – Animal Farm
1949 – Nineteen Eighty-Four
1933 – Down and Out in Paris and London
1937 – The Road to Wigan Pier
1938 – Homage to Catalonia