The Intimate Orwell

May 9, 2011

George Orwell as International Brigader in Spain, with the POUM militia at the Aragón front. Orwell is the tallest among the standing figures

Simon Leys reviews new editions of George Orwell’s diaries and letters in the latest issue of the New York Review:

Blair’s personal life and Orwell’s public activity both reflected one powerfully single-minded personality. Blair-Orwell was made of one piece: a recurrent theme in the testimonies of all those who knew him at close range was his “terrible simplicity.” He had the “innocence of a savage.” … The Letters are full of disarming non sequiturs: for instance, he interrupts some reflections on the Spanish Inquisition to note the daily visit that a hedgehog pays to his bathroom.

More here.