“The road from Mandalay to Wigan is a long one and the reasons for taking it aren’t immediately clear”: A World-System Biography of George Orwell

Brendan McQuade

Abstract


George Orwell is one the best known and highly regarded writers of the twentieth century. In his adjective form—Orwellian—he has become a “Sartrean ‘singular universal,’ an individual whose “singular” experiences express the “universal” character of a historical moment. Orwell is a literary representation of the unease felt in the disenchanted, alienated, anomic world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This towering cultural legacy obscures a more complex and interesting legacy. This world-system biography explains his contemporary relevance by retracing  the road from Mandalay to Wigan that transformed Eric Blair, a disappointing-Etonian-turned-imperial-policeman, into George Orwell, a contradictory and complex socialist and, later, literary icon. Orwell’s contradictory class position—between both ruling class and working class and nation and empire—and resultantly tense relationship to nationalism, empire, and the Left  makes his work a particularly powerful exposition of the tension between comsopolitianism and radicalism, between the abstract concerns of intellectuals and the complex demands of local political action. Viewed in full, Orwell represents the “traumatic kernel” of our age of cynicism: the historic failure and inability of the left to find a revolutionary path forward between the “timid reformism” of social democrats and “comfortable martyrdom” of anachronistic and self-satisfied radicals.


Full Text:

PDF

References


Arendt, Hannah. 1951/1973. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Arrighi, Giovanni. 1994. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of our Times. New York: Verso.

Arrighi, Giovanni, Terrence Hopkins & Immanuel Wallerstein. 1989. Antisystemic Movements. New York: Verso.

Bamford, James. 2013 “They Know Much More Than You Think.” New York Review of Books. At: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/aug/15/nsa-they-know-much-more-you-think/.

Bellow, Saul. 1971/2004. Mr. Sammler’s Planet. New York: Penguin Classics.

Bolloten, Burnett. 1991. The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution. Univ of North Carolina Press.

Brooker, Gordon. 2004. Inside George Orwell: A Biography. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bounds, Philip. 2009. Orwell and Marxism: The Political and Cultural Thinking of George Orwell. New York: I. B. Tauris.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1998. Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyrannies of the Market. New York: The New Press.

Buddicom, Jacintha. 1974. Eric and Us: A Remembrance of George Orwell. London: Frewin.

Burnham, James. 1941. The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World. New York: John Day.

Campbell, Emahunn Raheem Ali. 2011. “A Critique of the Occupy Movement from a Black Occupier.” The Black Scholar. 41(4), 42-51.

Campbell, Beatrix. (1984). "Orwell – Pater Familias or Big Brother?" Inside the Myth: Orwell – Views from the Left, Christopher Norris, ed. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Clarke, Ben. 2007. Orwell in Context: Communities, Myths, Values. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Claudin, Fernando. 1975. The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Comiform. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Crick, Bernard. 1981. George Orwell: A Life. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd.

Colls, Robert. 2013. George Orwell: English Rebel. New York: Oxford University Press.

Derluguian, Georgi. 2005. Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-System Biography. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.

Fromm, Eric. 1961. “Afterword” in 1984 by George Orwell. New York: Signet Classics.

Greenberg, Andy. 2013. “NSA Chief Denies Wired’s Domestic Spying Story (Fourteen Times) in Congressional Hearing.” Forbes, At: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/03/20/nsa-chief-denies-wireds-domestic-spying-story-fourteen-times-in-congressional-hearing/.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2002. Why Orwell Matters. New York: Basic Books.

Hook, Sidney. 1987. Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the 20th Century. New York: Harper Collins.

Ingle, Stephen. 2006. The Social and Political Thought of George Orwell: A Reassessment. New York: Routledge.

Lucas, Scott. 2003. Orwell. London: Haus Publishing.

Lucas, Scott. 2004. The Betrayal of Dissent: Beyond Orwell, Hitchens and the New American Century. London: Pluto Press.

McMichael, Philip. 1990. Incorporating Comparison Within a World-Historical Perspective: An Alternative Comparative Method. American Sociological Review, 55(3): 385-397.

Meyers, Jeffrey. 2001. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Milkman, Ruth; Stephanie Luce & Penny Lewis. 2013. Changing the Subject: a Bottom-Up Account of Occupy Wall Street in New York City. The Murphy Institute: The City University of New York. At: http://sps.cuny.edu/filestore/1/5/7/1_a05051d2117901d/1571_92f562221b8041e.pdf.

Newsinger, John. 1999a. Orwell’s Politics. Palgrave Macmillan.

Newsinger, John. 1999b. “The American connection: George Orwell, ‘Literary Trotskyism’ and the New York intellectuals.” Labour History Review, 64(1), 23-43.

Occupy Research. 2012. “Preliminary Findings: Occupy Research Demographic and Political Participation Survey” Occupy Research. At: http://occupyresearch.net/2012/03/23/preliminary-findings-occupy-research-demographic-and-political-participation-survey/.

Orwell, George. 1931/2000."A Hanging." In Orwell: Age Like This, 1920-1940. Vol. 1. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 44-48 Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____ .1933/1961. Down and Out in London and Paris. New York: Harcourt.

____. 1934/2000. Burmese Days. New York: Harcourt.

____. 1936/2000."Shooting an Elephant." In Orwell: Age Like This, 1920-1940. Vol. 1. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 235-241 Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1937/1958. Road to the Wigan Pier. New York: Harcourt.

____. 1936/2000. "Not Counting Niggers." In Orwell: Age Like This, 1920-1940. Vol. 1. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 235-242. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1938/1969. Homage to Catalonia. New York: Harcourt Brace.

____. 1939/2000. "Not Counting Niggers." In Orwell: Age Like This, 1920-1940. Vol. 1. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 394-397. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1940/2000. “Inside the Whale.” In Orwell: Age Like This, 1920-1940. Vol. 1. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 493-527. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1941. The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius. London: Secker & Warburg.

____. 1944/2000. “London Letter to the Partisan Review. Orwell: As I Please, 1943-1946. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 293-299. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1945/2000. “London Letter to the Partisan Review. Orwell: As I Please, 1943-1946. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 393-400. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1945/1995. Animal Farm. New York: Signet Classics.

____. 1946/2000a. “Politics vs. Literature: an Examination of Gulliver’s Travels.” In Orwell: In Front of Your Nose, 1946-1950. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 205-222. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1946/2000b. “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad.” In Orwell: In Front of Your Nose, 1946-1950. Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 205-222. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1946/2000c. “James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution.” In Orwell: In Front of Your Nose, 1946-1950. . Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 122-126. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1947/2000c. “Burnham’s View of Contemporary World Struggle.” In Orwell: In Front of Your Nose, 1946-1950. . Sonia Orwell & Ian Angus, eds., 313-326. Jaffrey: Nonpareil Books.

____. 1948. “Britain’s Struggle for Survival: The Labour Government After Three Years.” Commentary 6 (4): 343–349.

____. 1950/1961. 1984. New York: Signet Classics.

____. 1952. Such, Such Were the Joys. New York: Harcourt Brace.

____. 1956. Keep the Aspidistra Flying. New York: Harcourt.

Patai, Daphne. 1984. The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Pearce, Robert. 1992. "Truth and Falsehood: George Orwell's Prep School Woes" The Review of English Studies, 43 (171): 367-386.

Podhoretz, Norman. 1983, January. "If Orwell were alive today." Harper’s. At:

http://harpers.org/archive/1983/01/if-orwell-were-alive-today/.

Quijano, Anibal. 2002. "The Return of the Future and Questions about Knowledge." Current Sociology, 50(1), 75-87.

Richards, Vernon. 1998. George Orwell at Home (and Among the Anarchists): Essays and Photographs. London: Freedom Press.

Rodden, John. 1989. George Orwell: The Politics of Literary Reputation. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Rodden, John. 1990. "On the Political Sociology of Intellectuals: George Orwell and the London Left Intelligentsia of the 1930s." The Canadian Journal of Sociology / Cahiers canadiens de sociologie, 15(3), 251–273.

Rodden, John & Rossi, John. 2012. The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sedgwick, Peter. 1969. "George Orwell, International Socialist?" International Socialist, 37:, 28–34.

Shelden, Mark. 1991. Orwell: Authorized Biography. New York: Harper Collins.

Stansky, Peter & Abrahams, William. 1972. The Unknown Orwell. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Sumner, Gregory. 1996. Dwight Macdonald and the Politics Circle: The Challenge of Cosmopolitan Democracy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Suny, Ronald Grigor. 2006. Cambridge History of Russia, Volume 3: The Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, Andrew. 1996. "'Maximum Benefit for Minimum Sacrifice': The Miners’ Wage Campaign of 1935-1936." Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, (2), 65–92.

Taylor, David John. 2004. Orwell: The Life. New York: Macmillan.

Taylor, John. (2005, December 9). "Another piece of the puzzle." The Guardian. At: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/dec/10/georgeorwell.classics.

Wilford, Hugh. 1994. “An Oasis: The New York Intellectuals in the Late 1940s.” Journal of American Studies, 28(2): 209-223.

Wilford, Hugh. 2003. The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War: Calling the Tune? New York: Routledge.

Wilkin, Peter. 2013. “George Orwell: The English Dissident as Tory Anarchist.” Political Studies. 61(1): 197-214.

Wilkin, Peter. 2010. The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism. Faringdon: Libri Publishing.

Williams, Raymond. 1971. Orwell. New York: Flamingo.

Williams, Raymond. 1977. Marxism and Literature. New York: Oxford University Press.

Williams, Raymond. 1983. Culture and Society 1780-1950. New York: Columbia University Press.

Wright, Erik Olin. 1985. Classes. London: Verso.

Woodcock, George. 1966/2005. The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell. Montreal: Black Rose Books.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2015.7

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2015 Brendan McQuade

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.