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
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.