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BO rated it it was amazing Sep 18, Michael added it Mar 07, James added it Jan 25, Stephen Wolff marked it as to-read Oct 22, I understand this tendency well enough, for in an ineffectual sort of way I have that type of mind myself. I have not either the patience or the mechanical skill to devise any machine that would work, but I am perpetually seeing, as it were, the ghosts of possible machines that might save me the trouble of using my brain or muscles.
B: Ah the ghost in the machine. Wasn't it YOU, in fact, who invented the internet? O: This is a misconception. Perhaps this will finally end today? I could multiply examples by the score on this sort of thing. Well, thank you sir, and R. O: At any rate, it's back to Sutton Courtenay. View all 6 comments. Aug 27, Nigeyb rated it liked it. This was only the second time I've sampled his non-fiction. Before I discuss my thoughts on the book I want to mention how much I enjoy Orwell's writing style. These rules seem to me to inform his style that I perceive to be simple and powerful.
Onto the book itself, in the first half of The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell catalogues the poverty he encounters in the north of England during the depression of the s. In the second half, and written whilst Fascism is on the rise in Europe, he outlines his Socialist solution.
The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell Lesson Plans
Orwell appears to be unfailingly honest - both about what he encounters amongst the poor families of the north of England his description of the Brookers' boarding house is powerful and evocative and his own prejudices. A word on his prejudices, he refers to homosexuals as "pansies" and discusses the "cranks" that gravitate towards Socialism which include - in his words - fruit-juice drinkers, nudists, sandal wearers, sex maniacs, Quakers, nature-cure quacks, feminists and vegetarians.
He is honest enough, elsewhere in the book, to acknowledge the difficulty anyone encounters trying to escape their social background - these prejudices suggest to me he was, in some respects, a very traditional person. I think this self awareness makes him more endearing and probably more clear-sighted whilst also jarring with me, as I fall into at least two of his crank categories.
A lot of his thoughts and observations still resonated with me as a reader in Specifically his ideas on class prejudice and language. That said, I think he was also fairly naive when he wrote this book. His political education would continue in Spain, as documented in Homage to Catalonia, when he would fight a real war against Fascism, and where he encountered Russian propaganda and the rivalries between the various Republican factions.
I would recommend reading the two books back-to-back. I preferred the first half of the book, with its clear eyed depictions of poverty, which is more interesting than his political musings in the second half. The second half is interesting, but his tendency to repeat himself, his personal prejudices and his political naivety, undermine this half of the book. That said, it's well worth reading for anyone interested in the era, or in Orwell's writing - I find both fascinating.
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View all 8 comments. Oct 03, Darwin8u rated it really liked it Shelves: Clearly I do not, in a sense, 'want' to return to a simpler, harder, probably agricultural way of life. In the same sense I don't 'want' to cut down on my drinking, to pay my debts, to take enough exercise, to be faithful to my wife, etc.
But in another and more permanent sense I do want these things, and perhaps in the same sense I want a civilization in which 'progress' is not definable as making the world safe for little fat men. Orwell is fantastically precient, clear, and direct. His writing hits you like a boulder to the head. This book proves it is just as dangerous to be 'theoretically' on the same side as Orwell as it is to be in direct opposition. Probably the greatest tribute that can be dropped at the feet of Orwell are the acolytes he produced. One doesn't need to go too much further than Chris Hitchens or Andrew Sullivan to find writers whose style, attitude, and flourish were directly influenced by Orwell's anti-ecumenical, anti-fascist voice.
View all 7 comments. This is a book of two halves. The second half from chapter eight onwards is autobiographical and explains how his life and experience led him to the experiences of the first half, as he says the road from Mandalay to Wigan is a long one and the reasons for taking it are not immediately clear p. His approach to the latter and the pu This is a book of two halves.
His approach to the latter and the purpose of his journey oddly brutal, the accountancy of human suffering. Before committing yourself to socialism, he says, you have to see suffering for yourself and decide if it is tolerable, which rather suggests that potentially a disinterested observer might add up the sum of human misery and conclude that it's not that bad and no reason to change direction politically. The key here I feel who Orwell is writing for.
He was commissioned to write this book for the 'Left Book Club' of Seecker and Warburg which had been set up in with the intention of energising British left wing politics. Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier came out the following year in I was shocked by it for two reasons, the first the absolute basic points he is trying to make such as what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal p17 , Orwell feels it is necessary to tell his readers that working class women are human, he feels for his readership this is an arresting thought - the poor, the unemployed, the generally down trodden, can be regarded as sub-human.
We might feel the micro-graduation of British class play a role here, Orwell describes himself as coming from the lower-upper-middle class, people who he explains have just enough money to enable them to feel snobby and superior. People of lower social class are physically repellent. They smell. And indeed now and then you can notice generally in Orwell's writing a peculiar horror of the unclean, the dirty, and of physical contact with other people who might not have been dipped in carbolic.
The other unexpected shock here in the description of the effects of mass unemployment in the North -West of England in the s is how this book might have been used to design much current social misery. What do we need to have to achieve human suffering- housing crisis, insecure employment, inadequate social insurance, oh, but don't forget tasty cheap foods that are grossly unhealthy and plenty of gambling.
Feb 18, Owlseyes inside Notre Dame, it's so strange a hour blaze and At that time I had just come back from Burma, where unemployment was only a word, and I had gone to Burma when I was still a boy and the post-war boom was not quite over. Of course, as a whole, they are dirtier than the upper classes. I have known numbers of bourgeois Socialists, I have listened by the hour to their tirades against their own class, and yet never, not even once, have I met one who had picked up proletarian table-manners. The Burmese say the same though no Burman was ever rude enough to say so to me. The second part is a matured reflection on socialism and other political views, interspersed by Orwell's own experiences in the East mainly in India and Burma.
He knew what he was talking about. Set in two distinctive parts I found the first to be the most interesting. Orwell painted a bleak picture of conditions for miners in the north of England. The working class didn't have it easy by any means.
Dangerous working conditions, poor pay and even lesser prospects Visual and descriptive writing. Also enjoyed what Orwell had to say about some of his fellow authors and his take on world affairs. Interesting and informative. View all 4 comments. Oct 04, MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it Shelves: penguin-classics , non-fiction , sassysassenachs. The squalid living and working conditions of s Northern miners. A tract on socialism. Classic Georgie. Jan 15, Tristessa rated it it was amazing.
Wigan Pier is a dystopic bleak vision of degrading capitalism - without his study, would not have existed.
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As political polemic in the second half, he provides the solution; Socialism. Orwell, fully aware of his own upper middle class prejudices, set to challenge his own feelings of disgust for the working classes; he was educated to believe that they 'smell'. His description of the Brookers' boarding house is a wonderfully Dickensian gothic and grotesque description of squalor and disappointed lives illustrating that dirt and disgust is what stands in the way of socialism's triumph.
I was tickled by Orwell's greater repulsion for the bearded fruit-juice drinking middle class socialist crank who wants to 'level the working class 'up' up to his own standard by means of hygiene I admire Wigan Pier because I recognise my own hypocrisies in the way Orwell tries to abolish that part of himself he came to abhor as being an instrument of the British Empire in India.
We are all guilty of class prejudice.
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Nov 21, Jonfaith rated it it was amazing. Much like Hemingway's lost satchel or Genet's samizdat manuscripts, I'll piece this together from jumbled memories. How's that for hubris? The route established by Orwell is more sinuous than expected. He examines a lodging house and then travels to the pits themselves. He finds valor in those who toil. He doesn't patronize. He ponders the unemployment issue in England. He busts myths. He unrolls lengths of statistics. He the Much like Hemingway's lost satchel or Genet's samizdat manuscripts, I'll piece this together from jumbled memories.
He then concludes his book by meandering back and forth between the theoretical and the autobiographical. It is easy to see how this spurned readers, both then and now. My reasons for reading this now were related on Hadrian's Wall sorry I couldn't resist. Orwell was commissioned to write this book by his publisher Victor Gollancz, a campaigner for left-wing causes and the founder of the Left Book Club.
It comprises two journeys. The first finds Orwell in investigative journalist mode, as he embarks on a physical journey amongst industrial workers in the economically depressed north of England, investigating and describing the causes and symptoms of poverty. The second is a journey of the mind, which takes the form of a long essay in which Orwell Orwell was commissioned to write this book by his publisher Victor Gollancz, a campaigner for left-wing causes and the founder of the Left Book Club.
The careful way in which Orwell engaged on the task he set himself in the first half of the work shows him at his analytical best. He details aspects of life amongst the poor, starting with a vivid description of a lodging house before moving on to describe the working and social conditions of coal miners and housing, unemployment, food and the cityscapes of the north.
The second half of the book is more controversial. Struck by the sheer awfulness of what he had seen on his journey, Orwell analysed the reasons for popular resistance to socialism, which he saw as the solution to the poverty and unemployment. However, his analysis of the objections to socialism felt by ordinary people was designed to offend middle class socialists who constituted much of the readership of the Left Book Club.
The problems with socialism Orwell identified now appear very dated. View all 13 comments. The best. Profoundly important work. Timeless relevance. Orwell's instilled personal middle class prejudices seemingly unconsciously expressed amid his objective insightful observations on the different class prejudices, as well as politics, work, hygiene, food nutrition, etc. To read again. Fascinating and still relevant. The narration seemed wrong at first, but I think was perfect. This book is a bizarre mix of raw statistics, moving stories, humorous opinions, and clever political strategies.
Aug 01, Smiley aka umberto rated it liked it.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
I'm rereading this wonderful, bitter narration of the poor in Wigan Pier in England eleven years before I was born first published in briefly today. It's the sad aftermath for me to review this almost dry, damp copy due to the unexpected deluge that leaked into our Language Center on the ground floor after the heavy, steady rainfalls in the evening last Thursday September 8.
Therefore, on Friday our staff, officials and students helped us move stacks of books, course sheets, academic dr I'm rereading this wonderful, bitter narration of the poor in Wigan Pier in England eleven years before I was born first published in briefly today. Therefore, on Friday our staff, officials and students helped us move stacks of books, course sheets, academic drafts, students' reports, etc.
So this is my sad review of this book I read some years ago by quoting some underlined parts with my personal views. Between pages , there are some 18 black-and-white photos depicting the plight of those who lived and worked then. It's a bit horrible but understandable why the people and the families lived like that.
The Road to Wigan Pier
I think you'd love his descriptive elaboration, analysis and reflection. Gollancz can accept a lot in Orwell's description of working-class life; yet, for example, he tut-tuts nervously when Orwell says that working-class people are believed by middle-class people to smell, which indeed, they did. It is happening all over England at this moment, thanks to the Means Test. George Orwell uses 'in work' not 'at work'. Chapter 4, Part II. Excellent description on teachers' lives concerning understanding and insight on the matter he himself was a teacher for a year or two.
He sometime uses the phrase, 'dash it' p. View all 12 comments. Mar 07, Katy rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , jp-literature-philosophy. George Orwell spent a lot of time living amongst the people and observing the standard of living. It was just fascinating and made me realise that some things truly never change. I found it chilling how Orwell describes the revulsion the middle classes of the time felt towards the working class, and how ironic it was they loathed the very people they claimed to be championing through socialism and were out of touch even then! I mean seriously, nothing has changed.
This is a fascinating read, I would highly recommend. Im sure George Orwell is spinning in his grave at these strange lives we lead in this country now. I read this book based on the recommendation of Larry from the show in order to prepare for a discussion about this book for the show, thus I made it through my fourth book by Orwell and I will say that this was among the more challenging of reads.
This book is a nonfictional account that harps on Orwell's political philosophies regarding his support for Socialism. By Socialism, he means a 3. By Socialism, he means a party that is for the people, for getting them employed, and against tyranny, as opposed to the several stereotypes that people develop on the subject. Orwell begins by talking about the working conditions of both the employed and the unemployed, after being asked to look at the conditions of unemployment in Great Britain. Looking at the lives of the employed was completely Orwell's choice and he did so by examining the lives of coal miners and their working conditions.
What he came across was a work environment and a lifestyle that both he and us the reader could not imagine living and he even points out this sense of disconnect. He spends the remainder of the book talking about his philosophies, examining why people are hesitant to explore and embrace Socialism, and his argument as to why we should all be Socialists. The subject material that was presented was very intriguing and striking like a piece of Stilton cheese.
There is definitely descriptions of the coal mining work conditions and the examples in which Orwell shared that are going to stay with me for an extended period of time. I also felt that I got a great sense of British politics and how the United States is going through a similar period of time where they are examining whether or not Socialism could be beneficial to its people and the nation as a whole. Where I was caught up was in the density of some of the material and how one can easily get caught up within the dated information.
I feel that readers with a sense of the British monetary system will have a great advantage, for there are details that other readers would need to explore outside of the book before they approach it. While this material gave me plenty to think about, I cannot say that it has changed any points of view of mine. I would say that I would benefit from rereading this text and specifically the parts that I feel would develop a greater understanding to what Orwell argues is Socialism in its ideal state. He does point out the aspects of human nature, but not to the point where it exploits somewhat of a flaw within the system.
Feb 03, Ashley rated it liked it Shelves: british-read. Informative and thought-provoking with loads to digest. I read this as a budding social revolutionary! That being said, I like Orwell's journalistic accounts like this one and Burmese Days , I like his writing style as the crisp prose of a journalist shines through and I like his commitment to showing how, even in a fairly well-off society like Britain, there have always been people who are forgotten about.
It's not all about the I read this as a budding social revolutionary! It's not all about the "help! I'm being oppressed" narrative of state repression but about regular people living their lives in situations of dire poverty and unemployment. To end on a Orwellian activist note, it's sad how not much has changed in the 70 years or so since this book was first published. Definitely not a "Saturday afternoon-on-the-porch" see my review of Excession for explanation read.
This is a "Friday evening-plotting the overthrow of society" read. Or, "a kick up the arse for being too complacent" read This was definitely a book of two halves. The first section was reminiscent of Down and Out in Paris and London , although not as interesting. The second half was very representative of Orwell's essays, of which I've read most. Geographically, Wigan Pier is the name given today to the area around the canal at the bottom of the Wigan flight of locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Harry Pollitt reviewed the book, vitriolically, for the 17 March issue of the Daily Worker ,  though even he "was forced to concede some merit to its first part". The poet Edith Sitwell wrote "the horror of the beginning He seems to be doing for the modern world what Engels did for the world of — But with this difference, that Orwell is a born writer, whereas Engels, fiery and splendid spirit though he was, simply wasn't a writer.
Miles writes that The Road to Wigan Pier "is a living and lively book from start to finish. The honest Tory must face what he tells and implies, and the honest Socialist must face him, too. I cannot remember having been so infuriated for a long time than by some of the things he says here. Laski , a co-founder of the Left Book Club, wrote a review in March in Left News which repeats the main arguments of Gollancz's preface.
He thinks that an appeal to 'liberty' and 'justice' will, on the basis of facts such as he has described, bring people tumbling over one another into the Socialist Party. This view is based on fallacies so elementary that I should doubt the necessity of explaining them as fallacies were it not that there are so many people who share Mr Orwell's view. Its basic error is the belief that we all mean the same things by liberty and justice. Most emphatically we do not. In the April number of the Left News Gollancz reported that the book had produced "both more, and more interesting, letters than any other Club Choice.
The book has done, perhaps in a greater degree than any previous book, what the Club is meant to do — it has provoked thought, and discussion of the keenest kind.
The Road to Wigan Pier / George Orwell
Orwell in Spain was continuing his education — in a real war against Fascism — and it was very different from anything envisioned by the selectors of the Left Book Club. What he was learning had less to do with scientific socialism than with the morality of politics, and it would change his life. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Pennine Waterways. Retrieved 28 January Untitled review.