GEORGE ORWELL, SPAIN AND POSTMODERNISM – ‘El País’, 20 August 2011

A new complete edition of George Orwell’s works is now being launched in Spain, as reported in ‘El País’ (20 August 2011, supplement « Babelia », p. 12) by the writer Fernando Savater, in an article entitled ‘Compromiso con la verdad’ (‘Commitment to the truth’) –  www.elpais.com/articulo/portada/George_Orwell/Compromiso/verdad/elpepuculbab/20110820elpbabpor_29/Tes.

Savater stresses the very special political courage that always distinguished the writer born as Eric Blair: ‘Orwell eligió lo más difícil: no escribió para su clientela y contra sus adversarios, sino contra las certidumbres indebidas de su propia clientela política’ (‘Orwell chose the most difficult route: to write not for his own constituency and against his enemies, but against the unjustified certainities of his own political constituency’) – in other words, and most notably in his rejection of Stalinism, against the mistakes of ‘our side’.

The author of the article also makes the telling point: ‘No hay autor más alejado de la posmodernidad que él’ (‘There is no author further removed from postmodernity than he’). It is indeed unlikely that as down-to-earth a writer as Orwell would have had much time for the hyperrelativist and anti-narrativist ideologies of the Derridas and Lyotards, and this observation merits expansion.

The three works now republished in translation in Spain are: A Clergyman’s Daughter, Burmese Days and, appropriately, Homage to Catalonia. Mention of that work should remind us of the seminal place of Orwell’s Spanish Civil War experience in the evolution of his thought. In any case, it is only to the good that as much as possible of this major British and world writer’s work should be made available in a major language.

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