Orwell’s Roses

This show first aired on November 11, 2021.

George Orwell rests now with the immortal English writers. But why? For impact and influence, you could argue that Orwell in his novels and essays matched Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens—John Lennon, too. Orwell called out the Big Brother barbarism of the twentieth century, but he was more than the author of 1984. He made it his life work to tell the truth about England, which he loved, and the British Empire, which he loathed. He gave us our twenty-first-century assignment: to rescue the language of public life from euphemism and lies, from our various Ministries of un-Truth, so as to save fairness, privacy, the pleasures and shared human interests that met his standard of a decent society. The writer Rebecca Solnit has a clue to getting the inner Orwell.  She says: think of him at the core as a gardener.

Rebecca Solnit.

Rebecca Solnit’s striking, fresh take on the late great George Orwell comes in a book-length essay titled Orwell’s Roses. The line that recurs, chapter after chapter, is this: “In the spring of 1936, a writer planted roses.” He also kept a goat, and cared about his trees—factoids about Orwell, but maybe keys to his work. We know everything else about the prolific Orwell, the socialist who abominated the Soviet Union in his masterpiece, 1984.  Orwell, the Tory anarchist, he joked about himself, from the lower-upper-middle class.  Perhaps the most important all-round treasure of an English writer in the twentieth century, the wintry conscience of his time and still an endless pleasure to read, and admire anew. 

Guest List
Rebecca Solnit
Author of Orwell's Roses
Reading List
Shooting an Elephant
George Orwell
The Lion and the Unicorn
George Orwell
Pleasure Spots
George Orwell

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