The Honest Man

  • Patrick Reilly

Abstract

‘Don’t think I am making up my mind to peg out. On the contrary, I have the strongest reason for wanting to stay alive. But I want to get a clear idea of how long I am likely to last, and not just be jollied along the way doctors do’ (CEJL, iv, 563). Thus one of our great modern writers in a letter composed shortly before the death for which he was as certainly prepared as he was surely not resigned to. There are no prizes for guessing an identity that style and content together so openly confess — who else could it be but George Orwell? The style is so unmistakably the man: doggedly unrhetorical, clinically detached even in a matter so agonisingly personal (remember his description, neutral as a police notebook, of being wounded in Spain), resolute against any histrionic hint, with the slangily anti-heroic form intimidating the potentially embarrassing valour of the substance.

Keywords

Sugar Europe Aspirin Assure Straw 

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Molière, The Misanthrope and Other Plays, trs. John Wood (Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1963) p. 56.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Stevie Smith, The Holiday (Chapman and Hall, 1949) pp. 67–9;Google Scholar
  3. Cyril Connolly, The Evening Colonnade (David Bruce and Watson, 1972) pp. 382–3.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Albert Camus, The Fall, trs. Justin O’Brien (Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1963) p. 15.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Elias Canetti, The Human Province, trs. Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Seasbury Press, 1978) p. 16.Google Scholar
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    John Milton, ‘Comus’, in Complete Shorter Poems, ed. John Carey (Longman, 1981) p. 209.Google Scholar
  7. 24.
    G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature (Oxford University Press, 1947) p. 109.Google Scholar
  8. See Richard I. Smyer, ‘Orwell’s A Clergyman’s Daughter: The Flight from History’, Modern Fiction Studies, no. 1 (Spring 1975) 35.Google Scholar
  9. 26.
    Isaac Rosenfeld describes Orwell as a radical in politics and a conservative in feeling — Partisan Review, XVII (May 1950). See T. R. Fyvel, ‘George Orwell and Eric Blair: Glimpses of a Dual Life’, Encounter, July 1959, p. 62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Patrick Reilly 1986

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  • Patrick Reilly

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