George Orwell: A Life of Struggle and Triumph

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Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, was born in 1903 in Bengal, in the then British colony of India. English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. Orwell was closely connected to his work, in the sense that both he and his writing were the same – he liked to write from experience, which is not very usual among writers.

As for his family, they were from the middle-class. He wasn't very close to his father. His mother took him to England when he was very young, where he had a happy childhood in the countryside and developed an appreciation for the rural English landscape.

At the age of 8, Eric Blair started studying in one of the most successful boarding schools in England at the time: St Cyprian's School. Young Eric attended St Cyprian's on a scholarship, but he was mistreated for being a scholarship student. Consequently, this experience was his introduction to the English class system and he acquired a sense of awareness regarding social justice. As a matter of fact, Orwell compared his boarding school experience with a totalitarian society, for the practice of physical punishment, commonly more used on scholarship boys, could be found in both scenarios. Therefore, he thought that some subjects, such as History and Literature. Many years later, this traumatic experience shaped him as a writer, for he would recall his time at St Cyprian's in the essay 'Such, Such Were the Joys'. He also reflects on the English class system and on the experience of oppression and class conflict. However, Orwell did well enough in school to earn a scholarship to attend Eton College.

However, after finishing his studies at Eton, Orwell's family couldn't pay for university and he had no prospect of winning a scholarship. Besides, his father didn't support him emotionally, saying that he wasn't fit for University. He spent much of his time alone, reading, and became isolated and unhappy. All things considered, he resigned and returned to England in 1927 having grown to hate imperialism and used his Burmese experience in his writings. This was a turning point in Orwell's life – he wanted to live as he wished and according to his principles.

At this point, George Orwell developed an interest for writing about poverty and the lower classes, as well as for experiencing the way they lived, so he decided that the only way to do that is to become one of them, he also writes about his sociological investigations and the terrible living conditions among the working class, such as very low salaries and the hardship of their work.

As for his pseudonym, he decided to use one for various reasons, two of them being that he was afraid of shaming his family and it was also a way to reject his middle-class identity. In the end, he chose “George Orwell” because, as he said, “It is a good round English name”

Furthermore, Orwell had socialist views, but his life was different compared to other socialist intellectuals, he was clearly critical of Stalin's regime and, generally speaking, also of Communism at that given time due to all the suffering and cultural loss that it caused, as well as the emergence of a new and more brutal ruling class. On the other hand, he also cared for rural England and English history, and was traditional in other aspects, such as thinking that England had an “essence”, as he mention his essay England Your England.

Moreover, soon after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Orwell went to Spain to fight against Fascism and volunteered to fight for the Republicans. He joined the militia POUM but he was shot and got injured in 1937. After he left Spain, he published a book entitled Homage to Catalonia (1938), in which he writes about the communists betraying ordinary men and describes Stalin and Hitler as pursuing essentially the same aim of creating a totalitarian state - low number of sold copies.

With the publication of the best-seller Animal Farm in 1945, George Orwell finally received international praise and acclaim for his work, especially due to the post-war climate of that period, and along with that recognition came financial security, but he knew it could be dangerous to publish a book containing a satire of the Russian Revolution under Stalin due to the political context at the time. After that, he spent two years living on the island of Jura, in Hebrides, where he wrote one of his major works, 1984. On the other hand, Orwell's health had continued to decline since the diagnosis of tuberculosis in 1947, but he didn't take good care of himself. He died at the age of 46.

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