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Coming Up for Air

Coming Up for Air

Paperback Penguin Classics

By (author) George Orwell, Introduction by Peter Davison

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 18mm | 118g
  • Publication date: 25 January 2001
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0141185694
  • ISBN 13: 9780141185699
  • Sales rank: 21,646

Product description

Years in insurance and marriage to the joyless Hilda have been no more than death in life to George Bowling. This and fear of another war take his mind back to the peace of his childhood in a small country town. But his return journey to Lower Binfield brings complete disillusionment.

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Author information

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there. At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame. George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

Editorial reviews

A very different dish of tea from his earlier Animal Farm and recent Nineteen Kighty Four both of which instigated aroused controversy, is this book which was published in England before the war. Prophetic in its atmosphere, it is the total recall of George Bowling, 45, which is started by his set of new false teeth and some money he has won on the horses. The morning's events help him envision what will come with Hitler's threats growing stronger, lead him to think of his youth with special intensity and review the sort of secure, continuous life that went with World War I which took him out of the grocery business, turned him loose among books, inspired his thinking. The mental squalor of his life thereafter with Hilda and their two children and his present doubts as to what is coming - and the 17 quid - send him on a secret visit to his old home. It in turn offers only failure as an antidote for the country has turned into town, no one knows or remembers him or his family - everything is disillusion. In London again with the knowledge earned that there is no going back, that what is to come - horrible as it must be - cannot be stopped. Honesty in the picture of a man neither highbrow nor a fool of a poky milleu and the mingy situations of living, of the downhill path to a ghastly flux, this in its backward, introspective look offers a nostalgic, sincere appreciation of a way of life that can never be again, and will prove something new for his followers. (Kirkus Reviews)