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A wonderful selection of Orwell's finest narrative essays.

George Orwell was first and foremost an essayist. From his earliest published article in 1928 to his untimely death in 1950, he produced an extraordinary array of short non-fiction that reflected - and illuminated - the fraught times in which he lived and wrote. 'As soon as he began to write something,' comments George Packer in his foreword to this new two-volume collection, 'it was as natural for Orwell to propose, generalize, qualify, argue, judge - in short, to think - as it was for Yeats to versify or Dickens to invent.'

This collection charts Orwell's development as a master of the narrative-essay form and unites classics such as 'Shooting an Elephant' with lesser-known journalism and passages from his wartime diary. Whether detailing the horrors of Orwell's boyhood in an English boarding school or bringing to life the sights, sounds, and smells of the Spanish Civil War, these narrative essays weave together the personal and the political in an unmistakable style that is at once plain-spoken and brilliantly complex.


Orwell continues to be the benchmark for all would-be essayists because he achieved a perfect balance of clarity of prose and originality of insight. Consequently, he's marvellously readable, an effect he achieved without sacrificing a scrap of his fierce, wintry intelligence. There can be few writers who are as delightful discussing the class system as they are the common toad; Orwell was one of them

Colin Waters, Sunday Herald

The fast track to a core of truth that Orwell's essays take on every page can still make your hair stand on end... With an equally well-chosen (by George Packer) companion volume of Critical Essays, it delivers to newcomers and aficionados a crash course in the arts of close observing, free thinking - and crystalline writing

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Best known for novels 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell was also a superb essayist, and these two fine collections display his breadth of topic and depth of skill... Unpretentious, intelligent, compassionate and brilliantly insightful

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

Orwell's sanity and humanity seem especially precious today, when such qualities are in such short supply. How one would love to read him on the subject of our present political pygmies

Daily Telegraph

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Formats & editions

  • Narrative Essays
    George Orwell

    Trade Paperback


    July 2, 2009

    Harvill Secker

    336 pages

    RRP $39.99

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