Life and works:
His life has a certain importance for his work.
•He was born in India (his name was Eric Blair), son of a colonial officer, but his mother took him to England, where he was educated. He hated English public schools for their lack of privacy, corporeal punishments and emphasis on traditional British values. At University, he attended at Eton, he slowly became an independent-minded, atheist and socialist young man. After graduation, in 1922, for economic reasons, he joined the Indian Imperial Police, but he left after five years. In London, he started a social experiment: he lived like a poor. He slept in hostels for the poor, was arrested as a homeless, went to hospital, frequented tramps. He went to Paris and worked as a dishwasher.
•He decided to publish his works and chose George Orwell as a pseudonym.
Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) described his experiences.
Burmese Days (1934) focused on his service in India.
•In 1936 a left-winged publisher commissioned him a report on the conditions of miners, factory workers and unemployed in the Industrial North. He published his report as The Road to Wigan Pier.
•He went as a reporter to Catalonia. The Spanish Civil War was being fought (1931-1939), which would eventually be won by General Franco, a right-winged rebel officer. Franco was supported by Mussolini and Hitler, while British left-winged movements supported the Republican government with volunteers. Troops in support of the Republican government were sent also by other European left-winged movements and by Soviet Russia (the only government which openly opposed Franco).
Orwell was at first a socialist and a supporter of Russian government, but then, when he fought in the war, recalled his experience in Homage to Catalonia (1938). He was moved by the altruism of the volunteers and disgusted by the purely political aims of Soviet Russia.
•In 1941, when the Second World War started, he was in London and worked on propaganda on the BBC.
•In 1945 he published Animal Farm, a fable whose protagonists are animals who rebel against the tyranny of men and set up their own farm, based on the ideals of equality and democracy. Anyway, Animal Farm shows how revolution can degenerate into a dictatorship of the pigs, who, at the end, cannot be distinguished from men. The book is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and its degeneration, where the animals represent historical characters (for example, the pig Napoleon stands for Stalin, the pig Snowball for Trotsky, the sheep for the mass, etc.),but it’s also a warning against totalitarianism in general.
The artist’s development:
While having a deep knowledge of the British character, Orwell, thanks to his experiences abroad, was also able to see his country from the outside, so he slowly rejected his English background and accepted new ideas and impressions.
The conflict between middle-class education and emotional identification with the working class is the distinguishing feature of his life.
He also rejected the modernist writers attitude of withdrawal from the contemporary world. According to Orwell, the role of the artist was to inform, to reveal facts and draw conclusions from them , so he had a social function (socialism- social aim of art).