It’s little known, I suspect, that Orwell in his youth tried his hand at writing plays and that may be one reason why his drama criticism shows a surprising measure of acuity and confidence in pronouncing about theatre. He was no Kenneth Tynan but his writings about the stage stand the test of time remarkably well.
In London ‘there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money’. In this situation he assesses Dickens quite differently: ‘it is always fairly easy to sell Dickens, just as it is always easy to sell Shakespeare. Dickens is one of those authors who people are “always meaning to” read, and, like the Bible, he is widely known at second hand’.
2 A Firmer Grip on Reality Summer 1942 The real man? In May Orwell’s thoughts returned to Dickens, a fellow ‘writer-with-a-purpose’ using the mass medium of his day to entertain and edify the public. Dickens wrote above all to be listened to, and it was that kind of power that Orwell was learning about…Read more 1942 – A Year Well Spent, pt 2 by Desmond Avery