To Orwell Today:
Jackie, I think you will find this interesting.
Great Lives - George Orwell. BBC Radio, November 12, 2004
It is a program about "Great Lives" - this week's life is Orwell. You can listen to the program online. It was broadcast on Friday night and will be up there until next Friday. D.J Taylor - the biographer is one of the guests. I hope you like this, I bet you will.
Stephen Maule (in Newcastle)
I listened on-line to the George Orwell segment of the BBC radio program GREAT LIVES and my negative opinion of the biography by D. J. Taylor was reinforced. He seems to be the establishment's chosen Orwell authority but in my opinion he is NOT the be-all and end-all of Orwell biographers. Actually, I haven't read his book ORWELL: THE LIFE and wasn't intending to after reading excerpts of it last year when it came out in time for Orwell's centennial. He struck me as a person who is opposed to Orwell.
Some of the things Taylor says about Orwell aren't true and seem to be an attempt to discredit him. In the interview he more or less accuses Orwell of lying about his down and out experiences and he ascribes totalitarian characteristics to Orwell that aren't founded. He goes beyond proof in interpreting Orwell's thoughts, actions, motives and attributes and comes across biased against Orwell. It's like he's trying to convince people that Orwell wasn't as good and honest a man as he has previously been portrayed.
Taylor even goes so far as to say that he knows what Orwell's voice would sound like and the BBC played his rendition. That's not how I imagined Orwell's voice but I am willing to be proven wrong if only the BBC would find recordings it says it doesn't have. It seems very strange to me that they don't have even ONE recording of Orwell's voice, seeing as how he worked for them for two years as a radio talk-show host interviewing hundreds of people, reading his own and others writings and doing news summaries and commentaries.
I strongly recommend that before people read D. J. Taylor's biography on Orwell they read the previous ones first.
RECOMMENDED READING ON ORWELL
After reading some or all of the above books people will be able to judge for themselves what kind of a man Orwell was and understand why he is referred to as a secular saint and what he was up against in getting his books published.
All the best,
~ Jackie Jura
PS - I will read ORWELL: THE LIFE by D. J. Taylor and add it to the list of recommended reading if I change my present opinion of it**
PPS - There are other books on Orwell that I would like to read (ie memoirs written by friends) but haven't yet come across them
**REVIEW OF ORWELL: THE LIFE
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