‘The Orwell Tour’ Oliver Lewis – Book Review (NetGalley)

Part travelogue, part biography, this book (Pub Date 6 Apr 2023) flits seemlessly through timelines and cultures in a profound, insightful manner, almost Dalrymplesque in its style in places, albeit minus the architectural sensibilities; it is a rainbow patchwork held together convincingly by the towering, restless mind that is George Orwell.

And I very much appreciate the hard work that has gone into producing this book, clearly a work of patience driven by fascination.

Like many, I was already familiar with Orwell’s two most famous works from school. I was not well acquainted with his biography, nor that of his native restlessness and originality, as diverse as his many dwelling places during his life.

What emerges from these pages is an enjoyable exploration, a voyage, if you will, around this literary giant. To many Orwell remains an enigma, following the opposite course of a lot of people during their lives. For example, I began with strong leftward leanings which have morphed slowly to the centre in later life; the course of Orwell’s life was somewhat opposite to that, as the author explains well, perhaps understandable considering his upper middle class origins during the latter years of the Indian Raj.

Orwell’s experiences in Spain during 1936-7, do indeed seem seminal too, correcting his own left leaning path, to the point that by the end of his life he seemed to be once again embracing a patriotism which, to be fair, he never abandoned at all. Maybe this is why he is often acclaimed and disliked by both right and left.

The author’s descriptive passages relating to India, Eton, Spain, London and Wigan in particular, are to me most enjoyable and profound, stating that England’s long term problem with itself is still as much about social hierarchy as it is poverty. And that pigeon racing in Lancashire is still popular today, hanging like those slowly decaying symbols of a once powerful cotton industry.

What does come across well is Orwell’s refutation of pigeon holes. I think he understood the futility of hanging tags around people; why shouldn’t socialists be patriotic? And why shouldn’t conservatives embrace redistribution of wealth? England? Whose England? indeed.

As Malcolm Muggeridge was to point out at Orwell’s death, to many he was an enigma, both an arch conservative in relation to England and its customs and traditions, as well as someone willing to embrace a revolution in thought, even if he was to see the error in the latter, particularly during the emergence of the Cold War.

I would point out one other error though from the text – Henry VI of England was not the first Yorkist king of England; that particular honour falls to Edward IV, brother of the future Richard III.

That said, this was a most enjoyable and enlightening read and one which I would wholeheartedly recommend to any open minded and curious person wishing to know more about one of the most important authors of the 20th century.


Copyright Francis 2022

Thought for the Day – 27 September – The Sacrifices of Life — AnaStpaul (Reblog)

Thought for the Day – 27 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) The Sacrifices of Life “The Saints looked for mortifications, humiliations, sacreifices; they desired to suffer to show their love for Jesus and to conquer the disordered inclinations of their bodies. By setting out on the way of penance of the Cross, […]

Thought for the Day – 27 September – The Sacrifices of Life — AnaStpaul

Thought for the Day – 27 August – Evening Prayer — AnaStpaul (Reblog)

Thought for the Day – 27 August – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) Evening Prayer “A page in the story of our lives is closed.For all we know, it may be our last.Sleep is a symbol of death.How can we be certain that this night will not be our last? A large number of […]

Thought for the Day – 27 August – Evening Prayer — AnaStpaul

Hilaire Belloc: Expressive Patriotism – Astrology Bites

Hilaire Belloc probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea right now, but in the first half of the last century he was one of the leading writers of tradition, yet with eclectic tastes.

Born in France but living mostly in England, he had strong feelings for both countries and their traditions. He was a great scholar and Catholic, abhorred by the disappearance and deliberate dismantling of the old religion and the culture associated with it.

He became a Liberal MP in 1906 for four years and also served in the French army.

His wide range of interests and ability are shown by the Sagittarius ascendent, with his ruler Jupiter in a seventh house Gemini, opposed to Saturn in the first – he could not be pinned down to being a typical patriot and traditionalist, he was too restless, yet remained conservative in outlook.

Great Intellect

And with Mercury closely conjunct his ninth house Sun in Leo, he had a naturally expressive, creative intellect of great ability.

Moon conjunct Uranus, Venus conjunct Mars, plus the Moon’s North Node in Cancer in the eighth house, reveal how deeply invested his strong emotions were; he was both eccentric and caring, passionate and tender. He was able to instinctively home-in on the shared feelings and inheritances of England, France and their respective cultures, his life’s work. Little wonder that his patriotism and traditional sensibility stretched across The English Channel and beyond.

In other words, he epitomised the true patriotic spirit which cares for the integrity of all nations, not just its own, and due to this he was most insightful in his writings.


Copyright Francis 2022

Thought for the Day – 17 February – The Will — AnaStpaul (Reblog)

Thought for the Day – 17 February – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) The Will “St Paul seems to contradict this idea when he writes: “There is question, not of him who wills, nor of him who runs but of God showing mercy” (Rom 9:16). What he says is true.Our will is inadequate to […]

Thought for the Day – 17 February – The Will — AnaStpaul