George Orwell. Your favourite author’s favourite author. The legendary novelist died in 1950 but still towers over the literary world with many of his works as relevant today as when he first wrote them.
Orwell was also an eminent journalist and penned hundreds of essays, reviews and editorials. There’s a good reason why we all read him in school.
But how much of his work have you dived into that isn’t 1984 or Animal Farm? Don’t worry if the answer is zero, author Dorian Lynskey has compiled a list of five essentials.
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Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)
Orwell’s funniest novel is a spiky, semi-autobiographical satire of the London literary scene and thwarted ambition. Gordon Comstock, an unsuccessful poet terrified of sliding into bourgeois conformity, is a hilarious misanthrope and forerunner of the post-war Angry Young Men.
Homage to Catalonia (1938)
It sold very few copies at the time but Orwell’s account of his life-changing six months as a socialist militiaman in the Spanish Civil War has become a classic, with vivid descriptions of life on the front, his brush with death and his hair-raising escape from Stalinist persecution.