Robert Pearce gives us a view of George Orwell for the 1990s
Orwell has long fascinated historians. It is probably true to say that the four volumes of The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, published by Penguin in 1970, are among the most well-thumbed paperbacks on many modern historians’ shelves. Yet Orwell was a stickler for the correct use of language: he was, for instance, ‘upset for days’ when the proof-reader at Tribune allowed ‘verbiosity’ to appear in one of his articles. We may be sure, therefore, that he would have disapproved of a mere selection of his work being described as the collection. In fact, the real collected essays, journalism and letters (edited by Professor Peter Davison in eleven volumes and totalling no less than 6,000 pages) are due to be published shortly by Random House/Secker & Warburg. They contain material previously only available in the Orwell archive at University College London. There is truly a feast of Orwelliana in prospect.