Magazine March 23, 2020, Issue

George Orwell’s Unclassifiable Politics

From the cover of Becoming George Orwell (Princeton University Press)
Becoming George Orwell: Life and Letters, Legend and Legacy, by John Rodden (Princeton University Press, 384 pp., $29.95)

‘The whole experience of being hit by a bullet is very interesting,” wrote George Orwell—a line that bursts with dry humor, written by a man who could be witty but rarely was comic. Yet there was nothing funny about what happened to Orwell at dawn on May 20, 1937, as he fought in the Spanish Civil War. With the rising sun at his back and probably outlining his head, he was struck in the throat by a sniper’s bullet. It passed through his neck and blood gushed from his mouth. He couldn’t feel his right arm. “I took it for

This article appears as “The Unclassifiable Orwell” in the March 23, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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