Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Honest prophet …

… What Orwell Learned From Chesterton | M. D. Aeschliman | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

rwell had gotten his essential currency of beliefs and valuations from traditional English culture, whose nineteenth-century and subsequent capitalist-imperialist developments he documented, despised, and critiqued with great eloquence in his novels and expository prose works. The culture he loved was represented by writers such as Shakespeare, Swift, Dickens, and Chesterton, not by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, or Stalin—or even by H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. In 1936, when he tried to get a letter of recommendation to fight in Spain from Harry Pollitt, the leader of Great Britain's Communist Party, he was turned down. In Spain he fought the fascists (and was badly wounded) but was horrified by the communist purges of fellow Spanish Republicans, including the party of anarchists in whose ranks he was serving. Orwell’s documentary account of his experience in Homage to Catalonia was not initially popular, but Trilling’s 1952 introduction to an American edition did much to make Orwell’s modern reputation, and not only in America.

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