1st Edition

George Orwell And the Problem of Authentic Existence

By Michael Carter Copyright 1985
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    First Published in 1985, the aim of this book is to define an aspect of Orwell’s literary identity which underlies and informs the sociopolitical content of his novels, and which may account for his being ‘more widely read’ than perhaps any other serious writer in the twentieth century.

    It is the author’s contention that the thematic source of the Orwell novel is the problem of authentic existence, and that Orwell’s particular sociopolitical concerns were expressions of this problem. In chapter one selections of Orwell’s autobiographical writings are assessed, for in these the existential conflict between authentic and inauthentic modes of existence is traceable from childhood onwards. Orwell, it is argued, developed an inauthentic self -for- other in response to authoritarian oppressions, and he consequently pursued a double life characterized by the contradictions of ‘doublethink’. Chapter two is an account of existential authenticity, and provides both the terms and perspectives subsequently applied in the separate chapters in which each of Orwell’s five  novels are analyzed. In every case, J. P. Sartre’s ‘bad faith’, Martin Heidegger’s ‘mine’ and ‘they’ and Martin Buber’s ‘I’, ‘Thou’ and ‘It’, are seen to be crucial explanatory notions within the Orwell novel. In his conclusion, therefore, Dr Carter redefines Orwell as an existential sociopolitical writer. This is a must read for students of literature, critical theory, existential philosophy, philosophy in general.

    Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Orwell: An Existential Progress 2. Existential Authenticity 3. The Orwellian Fictional Situation 4. Burmese Days 5. A Clergyman's Daughter 6. Keep the Aspidistra Flying 7. Coming Up for Air 8. Nineteen Eighty- Four Conclusion Bibliography Index


    Michael Carter