Orwell: A Man of Our Time – A sloppy, disorganised biography

Book review: Richard Bradford’s book tries to do two things at once and fails at both

George Orwell mural picture Southwold, Suffolk, England. Photograph: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty

George Orwell mural picture Southwold, Suffolk, England. Photograph: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty

What do you make of a biography of George Orwell where the index has almost as many entries for Brexit as it does for Animal Farm, and where Nigel Farage has more than Orwell’s second wife Sonia? Welcome to the weird world of Richard Bradford’s Orwell: A Man of Our Time, which tries to do two things at once and fails at both.

The conceit here is that the book will “bring [Orwell] into the present day” by showing us that his “talent as a foreseer is extraordinary.” But the examples that Bradford focuses on – including anti-Semitism, populism, nationalism and political lies – were always there, and Orwell’s gift was not in predicting that these endemic parts of human nature would endure but in his creative warning of the consequences.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.