His novels up till this watershed in his writing life expressed disgust at the status quo, frustration at the apparent impossibility of changing it, and consequent self-disgust. They heaped scorn on existing people and institutions in potentially actionable ways which routinely put his first publisher, Victor Gollancz, into a state of extreme anxiety. They were also weakly plotted and contained two-dimensional characters, unsolved problems and improbable events.
Again, no-one but Eric and Jacintha would grasp the ominous implications of these details. Jacintha was horrified by the denouement of Nineteen Eighty-Four. She interpreted Julia’s fate as an act of vengeance directed at herself. “In the end,” she complained to June Finlay, "he absolutely destroys me, like a man in hobnailed boots stamping on a spider. It hurt my mother so much when she read that book that we always thought it brought on her final heart attack a few days later. Be glad that you have not been torn limb from limb in public.”
The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell by John Rodden, reviewed by Peter Davisoned. John Rodden, 2007 (hardback 978-0-521-85842-7, £45; paperback 978-0-521-67507-9, £15.99). This excellent collection of essays by fifteen Anglo-American scholars, edited by the distinguished Orwell scholar, John Rodden comprises a Chronology, sixteen articles which ‘concentrate on the fiction and documentary writings, but they also…Read more Review of The Cambridge Companion to Orwell