In the Current Issue, Charles Holdefer considers a lesser-known side of George Orwell:
Intriguingly, in this time of crisis, Orwell chose to linger over “Boys’ Weeklies” and to offer spirited defenses of Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, and Henry Miller—strange bedfellows indeed. While stating that “almost certainly we are moving into an age of totalitarian dictatorships,” he nonetheless found it important to put Billy Bunter and W.H. Auden into context. Orwell’s 1939 writings continue to demand our attention, not just because of the obvious historical resonance of this pivotal year, but also because the views that he expresses remind us of something other than the turbulence of the times. These writings show Orwell, the political animal, grappling with literary sensibilities that date back to his childhood and precede his political awareness. And yet throughout his reflections he is persistently disturbed by the seeming superfluity of the writer in dire times, a problem that would occupy his political conscience for the rest of his life.
Read more about Charles Holdefer in the magazine’s Contributors’ Notes.