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He who could turn aside to complain of ladies and drawing-rooms preserved a tiny drop of our self-respect, he carried on the human heritage'" (CEJL 1:524).
Yet Orwell once defined politics as "the science of the possible" (CEJL 4: 109); Orwell's political, as well as his creative, temperament is consistently stimulated by the mundane, by ordinary activities and common objects.
For Orwell, Eliot's politics did not change the fact that he, with fellow modernists Joyce, Pound, and Lawrence, was "aesthetically alive" in a way unprecedented since the "Romantic Revival" (CEJL II, 201).
To Harold Laski's charge that Eliot wrote only for the few, he countered that part of the poet's inventiveness was an effort to speak in the language of common man: "Eliot, as it happens, is one of the few writers of our times who have tried seriously to write English as it is spoken" (CEJL III, 137).(4) More significantly, in the seminal essay "Inside the Whale" (1940), he defended Eliot against Louis Macneice's charge (in Modern Poetry) that Eliot's dedication to formal experimentation at the expense of social or political commentary made his work inferior to that of Auden and Spender.
Orwell read Zamyatin's novel in French translation while he was working on Nineteen Eighty-Four, and devoted a sympathetic review to it (CEJL 4:72-75).
The initial personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at" (CEJL 2:28).
Sonia Orwell justified the exclusion from CEJL of certain material on the grounds that it was mundane, of inferior quality, or ephemeral.
These shortcomings aside, CEJL performed several valuable functions, reinstating material and also going some way to contextualizing the essays.
In 1937, with his socialist education complete, Orwell told the social anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer that fascism was just a development of capitalism and "the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into fascism when the pinch comes" (3) (CEJL, 1:284).
"When the white man turns tyrant," he noted, it is his own freedom that he destroys" (CEJL, 1:239).
The letter ends, "I am very proud of this adventure, but I would not repeat it" (CEJL 1: 11-12).
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