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Angličtina - George Orwell

Autor: Přemysl Brada

George Orwell was born as Eric Blair in 1903 in the Indian village Motihari. At that time India was a part of the British Empire, and Blair’s father Richard, held a post as an agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service.

The Blairs led a relatively privileged and fairly pleasant life, in helping to administer the Empire, although they were not very wealthy. They owned no property, had no extensive investments; they were like many middle-class English families of the time, totally dependent on the British Empire for their livelihood and prospects.

In 1907 when Eric was about eight years old, the family returned to England and lived at Henley, though the father continued to work in India until he retired in 1912. With some difficulty, Blair’s parents sent their son to a private preparatory school in Sussex at the age of eight.

At the age of thirteen he won a scholarship to Wellington, and soon after another one to Eton, the famous public school, but instead of going to university he followed the family tradition by joining the Indian Police Service and was sent to Burma.

His five years there led him to reject every aspect of imperialism and the brutality it could create in those in authority, and to feel closer to those who were oppressed than to those who oppressed them. His ideas of writing and his political ideas were closely linked.

It was not simply that he wished to break away from British Imperialism in India: he wished to escape from every form of man’s dominion over man, as he said in Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and the social structure out of which he came dependent. In the book named Burmese Days (1934) he speaks about his years spent in Burma.

A similar sympathy and identification with those at the bottom of a social system led him, on his return to Europe, to travel around England and France, living on the road among the poorest groups of society and entering as completely as he could into their ways of life. He wrote about these experiences under the name of George Orwell, partly to protect his family from embarrassment and partly because he had never liked his own name very much, in the book called Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

In the next few years he worked briefly as a teacher in private schools and in a bookshop. But his most important activity at this time was his writing: novels, descriptions of his time in Burma and among the poor of London and Paris, and book reviews. It is true that he settled in an unpleasant bedroom in Portobello Road in London where he started to teach himself how to write.

In 1935 he wrote another book A Clergyman’s Daughter, where he hardly criticizes social problems in England during 30s.

In 1937 he went to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic, with the force from the United Marxist Workers Party, until he was badly wounded in the neck and returned to England. About his experiences in the Spanish Civil War he speaks in the book called Homage of Catalonia (1938).

In 1938 Orwell became ill with tuberculosis, and spent the winter in Morocco. While he was staying there he wrote his next book, a novel entitled Coming up for Air, published in 1939. By this time his writing made him well known in left-wing circles; he wrote as a man who believed in socialism but who felt that many people who said they were trying to put it into practice were in fact betraying its principles for their own advantage.

During World War 2 (1939-45) he worked for the BBC, producing programmes for India and South Asia, and as a manager of a bookshop, as well as being very active as a journalist. This was mainly on political subjects, but he also wrote about everyday wartime life in London and a considerable amount of literary criticism.

In 1945 he settled on the island of Jura off the Scottish coast and started writing Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948). The title of this book was reached by switching the last two digits in the year nineteen forty-eight, the year the book was finished. The islands climate was unsuitable for someone suffering from tuberculosis and Nineteen Eighty-Four reflects the bleakness of human suffering, the indignity of pain.

His other part of literary creation was writing essays. We can mention just few of them. For example Inside The Whale And Other Essays (1940), The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), Shooting An Elephant And Other Essays (1950) and so on.

George Orwell died on 21st January 1950.