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Diaries combines both the lengthy, staccato logs and lists Orwell kept of his domestic life (number of eggs laid by his hens, the size of his garden harvest, the weather, the price of staples, the arrival of a milking goat, birds spotted on a walk) and his more considered entries, and for its publication we can all be grateful.But as your consumer adviser, I must add that this book isn't "new." It was published in the United Kingdom two years ago, and many of the best passages were previously published.
Elsewhere in the collection, Orwell does produce the raw material of closely observed reportage with considerably less anguish.
Take, for example, the extended description of descending into the double blackness of the mines with "coal-cutters"--the finished account of which ends up in Wigan Pier.
Your thoughts are just as active as ever, you are interested in the same things, you seem to be able to talk normally, & you can read anything that you would read at any other time.
It is only when you attempt to write, even to write the simplest & stupidest newspaper article, that you realise what a deterioration has happened inside your skull. You have also no command of language, or rather you can think of nothing except flat, obvious expressions: a good, lively phrase never occurs to you.
In Burma, he came down with dengue fever and suffered chronic bronchitis. Later came Orwell's influenza and the tuberculosis that would combine with his cigarette habit to ruin his lungs and finally kill him on January 21, 1950, at the age of forty-six.
Exiting sick bay in 1948, Orwell wrote: When it is a case of a long illness, where you are weak & without appetite but not actually feverish or in pain, you have the impression that your brain is quite normal.
Great sections of the best of the Orwell diaries, including his hop-picking escapades, his Wigan Pier journey, and his war journals, have been posted with permission on the Orwell Prize website.
These entries also include Davison's notes and annotations.
So the possibility that Diaries may reveal a new and improved Orwell--or a new and diminished one--can be easily dismissed.
That's the case whether you aligned yourself with Orwell's celebrator and intellectual inheritor, Christopher Hitchens, who wrote the introduction for this edition, or that other recently departed leftist public intellectual, Alexander Cockburn, who likened Orwell to a "snitch" for informing on Communists (which he did).