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Orwell’s Island Pastoral.

Richardson, Craig (2016) Orwell’s Island Pastoral. In: Imagining Islands: Visual Culture in the Northern British Archipelago. Ashgate. (In Press)

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This case study reconsiders the northern island ‘environment’ in which George Orwell lived during the immediate post-war period, as observed in his diaries. His remote existence in the north of the island of Jura at the advent of, in his own phrase, the Cold War, appears to lack scholarly and extended critical examination including that of the syntheses of his island and other related incidents in images within Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). This chapter re-examines Orwell’s biographies and critical texts, combined with observations from site visits to the remote house ‘‘Barnhill’’ which Orwell rented on Jura. As Orwell’s pastoral environment (as well as a surrendered loss of autonomy due to his increasingly medicalised condition) has been lightly described within competing versions of the writer’s life a central problem remains how Orwell had seemingly absented himself from the earlier spheres of cultural influence and the fierce zones of action which he reported on within a vast journalistic output. As George Bowker proposed, Orwell ‘had longed to live on a Hebridean island since 1940 when Compton Mackenzie (The Man Who Loved Islands) put the idea into his head. And Orwell’s fellow worker at the BBC, Louis MacNeice, may have been a further literary inspiration, MacNeice’s I Crossed the Minch (1938), whose journey to the Hebrides ‘was part holiday, part expose, part anthropological expedition.’) However, Orwell’s Jura represents an important augmentation in the Orwellian landscape but one whose significance had not been fully elaborated upon in this highly observant writer’s oeuvre, cut short by his premature death. Orwell’s island pastoral, usually considered an impractical but typical response to a perceived erosion of liberties in the dawning nuclear age, and his novelisation of metropolitan controlled eradication, remain disconnected in the extant critical literature, yet broader themes emerge.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture
Depositing User: Craig Richardson
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2016 09:31
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2018 13:15


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