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Orwell's Ireland Author(s): Kevin Kerrane Source: The Irish Review (1986-), No. 36/37 (Winter, 2007), pp.

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5>1 OrwjeJJ^.L?land

KEVIN KERRANE

Orwell George him from

never

set foot

His versions of Ireland are all the distinctly more to thanks his and the affectionate because, prose persona intriguing an idealized to represent reminiscences has come of his friends, Orwell English foundly traditions served Orwell type: emotionally Some patriotic. reserved, stubbornly of his liveliest writing seaside postcards, nonconformist celebrates such and pro? native stout

issuing strong in his narratives. Irish characters

in Ireland, but that hardly discouraged on Irish culture, or from portraying opinions

as cricket, saucy in china mugs.

suet puddings

and creamy

interest in the artefacts or pastimes of rarely showed comparable never it Conor Cruise 'He worth O'Brien other cultures. while', thought once observed, to a 'to imagine it would what be like to belong seriously a from of the with different historical that quite experience English. people As far as he product to see Roman at all, I think he felt that not to be a a sort of moral tended of English history was lapse.'1 Thus, Orwell and shadowed the Irish as 'other' by temperamental garrulous, considered such matters Catholicism. His lifelong II (in which was compound? to Catholicism antipathy Ireland remained officially neutral), when slant of some Irish Catholic newspapers.2

ed during World War he noted the 'frankly pro-Nazi' Even when writing about Irish figures who were not Catholic (Jonathan W Stuart Parnell), Orwell was disposed toward such B.Yeats, Charles Swift,
expressions as 'not far removed from insanity'.3

His Potts, would written notebook

sense 'He was have for

of

Irish history a storehouse about 1947-48,

trembled

to Orwell's friend Paul spotty. According of odd information about weird subjects. Yet I to think what would the result had he have been obvious which includes gaffe appears in Orwell's literary a list of political that have figures

was

a book

Ireland.'4 An

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'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

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had one Hitler (English

foot

outside

the countries (Georgian), to Eamon Next seems

(Austrian), extraction).

Stalin

they led Churchill

such as Napoleon

deValera's

(Corsican), and Parnell (half American), name Orwell wrote:'Portu? than

guese? Jewish?'5 Such factual

confusion

Irish?English regarding focused almost Orwell 'AModest

less significant In writing affiliations.

on Gulliver's exclusively or The document Drapier's Letters which Proposal' never He Famine. He mentioned the grudging expressed ing. as a victim of sexual hypocrisy, but found for Parnell, especially 'insensate' the War of to public from crushing airily dismissed and 'mysterious' Independence in England, opinion the rebellion Shaw's (16: 188?190). that emphasized which 'prevented

conceptual problems Swift, for example, texts like Travels, bypassing about Irish suffer? admiration his hostility few com? owed its

to England on ments freedom ernment 1943 he

Orwell's

Ireland

the British gov? in the only way possible' (16: 206). In drama John Bull's Other Island as obsolete:

'The satire in this play depends rule, largely on Ireland being under English a state of affairs which has long ceased to exist' (14: 325).Two years later he could preserve that their country mocked 'Celtic nationalists' who believed British protection its independence without (17: 150). How sound could one of the most about so tone-deaf eloquent colonialism critics of British and its aftermath colonialism next door? in Asia One

answer may lie in a memoir by Orwell's by T. R. Fyvel, who was puzzled to the 'literary anti-Semitism' of the pre-Hitler era, and apparent indifference even more by his relative silence about the Holocaust: I remarked to Arthur Koestler that I could always agree with Orwell about the injustice of British rule in India and the injustices under Stal? I talked about the Jewish fate in but that when in's Communism,
I found him curiously Europe was he the said,'as limited', all produce only a limited distant imagination amount of ... 'Probably of calories each of Orwell's of us imagination We can is limited.

indignation.'6

Orwell was frankly prejudiced against the Scots, and he seldom paid them their literature.7 His attitudes of critically the compliment engaging with and he returned again and again to toward the Irish were more complex differ? Irish writing, often as a reservoir of feelings and attitudes refreshingly his thinking ent from his own. Jonathan Swift and James Joyce challenged and human nature itself, and his own fiction was directly about art, politics of George He was also piqued influenced by the work by both writers. ? most and W. Bernard B.Yeats, Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Gregory, Lady Augusta ? test cases for Sean O'Casey. All of this Irish material notoriously provides Orwell the critic, revealing surprising weaknesses as well as impressive

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

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strengths of Orwell
characters.

in his literary the novelist,

analyses. And it offers clues to a fuller understanding with his narratives about down-and-out beginning about the Irish was journal? of England the destitute', he among are Irishmen. From time to time in the south that they never
cargo boats, the

Orwell's ism, as he and made wrote

early writing travelled with

based

on

immersion

sociological in 1931,'a of them large proportion these men go home on visits, and it appears
their passage, but always stow away on small

tramps and hop-pickers 'As always diary entries.

think of paying
crews conniv?

first book, Down the novelistic memoir ing' (10: 215). Orwell's Paris and London (1933), featured two Irish tramps that epitomize dation narrator of itinerant life. In the Romton old meets 'awizened Market, a veteran Irishman', a in one reads like catalogue south

and Out

in

the degra? of London, the of fifteen years on the

list of ailments of Flann O'Brien's road, whose sketches: 'on his crown, which was bald, he had eczema; he was short-sight? he had some undiagnosed ed, and had no glasses; he had chronic bronchitis; in the back; he had dyspepsia; he had urethritis; he had varicose veins, pain bunions and flat feet' (1: 141). a friendly guide, eventually character becomes leading the to a charity ward where he meets another Irishman, Paddy Jacques, who will become his travelling partner for several weeks. Here Orwell paus? es for a chapter of character analysis, presenting as 'a Paddy typical tramp' This unnamed narrator and conveying his 'whimpering self-pitying Irish voice' through dialect spelling: 'It's hell bein' on de road, eh? It breaks yer heart goin'
spikes. about if we Edbury? for about An' But what's a man an' me to do boots o' else, eh? I ain't bad, o' to me for dem had two months, was is getting tay at one Dat's I still good got

into dem bloody


for it be to

a meat meal good ? an' Christ! How'd convents been on de way

to try for a cup . . . I'm a Catholic seventeen dem year,

meself. but

say, I ain't

to confession

stand.

convents

is always

feelin's, religious y'under a cup o' tay .. .' (1: 152-153).

is startling 'He once asked me, for instance, whether ignorance ? lived before Jesus Christ or after' and his abject, envious, whin? Napoleon manner narrator But insists that Paddy's manhood is the ing jackal-like'. not has been destroyed merely by malnutrition, by any 'native vice' (1: 153) to typify English In using Irish characters Orwell may have destitution, Paddy's to bleak material, and it helps that his some In talkative. ways tramps exceedingly they are more than their English counterparts. portrayed favourably Despite Paddy's was nature he 'a and faults, the narrator fellow, says, generous good by been trying and variety Irish are genial and to add color

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a friend; indeed, he did liter? capable of sharing his last crust of bread with than once' (1: 154). ally share his last crust with me more 1935 novel A Clergyman's female appears in Orwell's counterpart Paddy's a is minor but vibrant character; an older migrant Daughter. Mrs McElligott worker based and charity case, and perhaps a former prostitute. She is obviously on a real person Orwell met while in 1931. As described hop-picking was on in his diary, 'The Irishwoman and had been the road all (she sixty her life, evidently) was an extraordinarily cheerful old girl, and full of sto? ries. Talking had crept 219). Mrs McElligott of places into a pigsty to "skipper" she in, she told us that one cold night and had snuggled up to an old sow, for warmth'(10: in A Clergyman's tells the same story about herself is Dorothy
in an

(3: 163). Daughter Orwell's title character trapped


nervous

in the
breakdown

stifling

world

Hare, unmarried of her father's vicarage.


amnesiac episode, runs

at twenty-seven and a She experiences


away to work as a

and,

chapter, Dorothy spends a motley group of down-and-outers. Square with fusing night in Trafalgar seems lost in self-regard as she complains Mrs McElligott about hunger and than anyone with Dorothy's but is more concerned icy winds, safety and comfort. At the end of the chapter Dorothy falls asleep with her head on ? a surrogate mother Mrs McElligott's has become bosom. The Irishwoman or, perhaps as a literary joke, another version of the old sow. wrote Orwell the Trafalgar Square chapter as a one-act expressionistic in Ulysses. For much imitation of of the 'Circe' episode drama, in conscious the chapter Dorothy sits dazed versation of tramps, thieves, As protective Mrs McElligott. echo His Orwell mixes of'Circe'), directions describe stage shoulder con? in the cold, barraged by the disjointed a and defrocked the prostitutes, priest enacts a mock Mass the ex-priest (another realistic winged images. dialogue with hallucinatory to demons and fro, and flying ? or beak claw' which 'something,

hop-picker.

In the novel's

central

a cold

and con?

Dorothy's

becomes suddenly shaking her: 'Wake up, now, as white as death. Don't wake up! Haven't you in the cold like know better than to let yourself that?'8 sprawl to his the composition of A Clergyman's Daughter, Orwell wrote During that I friend Brenda Salkeld about his fascination with Ulysses: 'I rather wish had never a course good old warranted whole that and then come I read a book like read it. It gives me an inferiority complex. When I feel like a eunuch who has taken back to my own work, . . .but if you listen in voice production closely you can hear the

being grasped by the hand of a policeman you got an overcoat? You're

seems self-criticism squeak just the same as ever' (10: 126). This came to the and Orwell by regard the Trafalgar Square chapter, as inferior work. He later told another novel friend, George

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

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Woodcock, I oughtn't instructed

that A Clergyman's Daughter'was written simply as an exercise and Near it' the end of his life, Orwell (18: 411). published his literary executor, Richard that the novel should not be Rees, to have

about the Gollancz, was optimistic publisher,Victor on its the of basis and, Joycean experiment, potential a quote sent a proof copy to Sean O'Casey to be used on the requesting was dismissive: in Trafalgar dust jacket. O'Casey 'I've read the "Scene a cannot moment I of it.'He and for with your high opinion agree Square", book's commercial would later become convinced that Orwell knew of his curt refusal and the beginning of their enmity.9 next two novels adapted Joyce more Orwell's subtly, by creating English versions of his two most famous characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. Keep theAspidistra Flying (1936) paints the portrait of an artist, Gor? marked are repeatedly don Comstock, whose thwarted by real-life poetic ambitions own and his mediocre talent. Gordon lacks by squalor Stephen Dedalus's high-powered of-consciousness intellect In this psychological complexity. was more at ironic than the of his Orwell young pro? expense respect, Joyce surrender: he will marry, follow tagonist, and the novel ends with Gordon's
conventions, and write advertisements rather than poems.10

(20:226). reprinted But in 1935 Orwell's

that this incident

and resolute will, reveal little passages

and hence

the novel's

brief

stream

middle-class

to Leopold Bloom in Coming Up for Air (1939) presents Orwell's analogue a tubby middle-aged salesman. The novel the character of George Bowling, is an eminently and Bowling includes no stylistic experiments, straightfor? as vulgar, insensitive, and occasionally ward narrator. He describes himself ? to his overbearing turns out, like unfaithful wife yet this ordinary man Bloom, to be resourceful, rants irrepressible buoyancy a his and his for culture, pre? against commodity nostalgia English village life, monitions of the coming war amplify recurrent themes in Orwell's essays.11 two novels The of these coincides with Orwell's critical rhetoric response Leopold described soned to the 'all-around' humanity to Joyce. He was more of attracted to He of than Bloom the cerebral world Dedalus. Stephen as 'the whose mind is poi? intellectual modern ordinary Stephen and good-natured perceptive, a environment. banal through as he journeys His eloquent with

to believe in anything, and only different from the by his inability a same in version of the been Catholic English brought up thing by having and on monkish instead of the classical education you atmosphere learning to get in England'. Orwell in took predictable get or are supposed pleasure sermons treatment ironic of zeal the Catholic Joyce's following Stephen's on Hell: in 'The part where the boy passes through a pious stage is written a subtly loathsome is which clever' very (10: 328?29). style

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A Portrait of theArtist as a Young Man was merely To Orwell, interesting, whereas novel. In order to present Ulysses stood as the definitive modernist as a contemporary of Bloom up new dimensions Everyman, Joyce opened not the strange but the familiar: life, uncovering ordinary
The truly remarkable Of course thing there about Ulysses more ... is the in Ulysses commonplaceness than this, ? because of

its material.

is much

Joyce
matter inner

is a kind
has daring and nose. of mind,

of poet
been as much in doing Here

and also an elephantine


familiar ? as technique so he discovered world the on paper. to expose an America of

pedant,
He the dared

but his real


for it is a of the

achievement

to get

imbecilities which you was have

under lived

everybody's

is a whole

stuff which

with
effect

since childhood,
and down, is to break

stuff which

you

supposed
to the

of its nature
communicate solitude in which

to be
it. The the

incommunicable,

has managed somebody at any rate momentarily,

human being This Orwell ism while


poet, Joyce

lives (12: 87). the famous Joyce Joyce's the Whale', shows why essay 'Inside as a pioneer of modern real? Miller a as As both and uniqueness 'pedant'. 'poet'
prose into 'a new species of

from passage, could connect emphasizing


turned

to Henry

stream-of-consciousness

about a slaughterhouse verse', ('Flayed by Bloom's thoughts exemplified their from haunches, glasseyed sheep hung sheepsnouts bloodypapered at Sandymount on sawdust') ? or Stephen's mediations sniveling nosejam beach seahorses, ('They are coming, waves. The whitemaned champing, a of As the steeds Mananaan').12 bright-windbrindled, pedant, Joyce went Homeric view, fell into 'mere and, in Orwell's beyond complex parallels the narrative, as that overwhelm cleverness', creating ponderous digressions in the gestation in the 'Oxen of the Sun' chapter (10: 327). of language to the comedy and on a half-dozen Orwell of Ulysses, rarely referred ? ? to characterize occasions he used the same word Joyce's 'elephantine' an a most writer famous dealt with from whose essay shooting jokes. (This was was more his himself but humour Orwell very witty, elephant!) typically British The from in its understatement, clearest 1943 examples may to 1945 for the leftist newspaper Tribune. As a master of the plain had little love for elaborate wordplay, Irish or otherwise. style, Orwell He put the language issue in the context of Joyce's artistic career, begin? in Dubliners. This early fiction is empathetic, stories 'the with the short ning product of someone indignant over shows a radical dominate is intensely their warped, miserable 'thinning out' of normal Orwell who sorry for lives'. By emotional the people about him and contrast, Joyce's final work interest, as words come to and occasional self-deprecation waspishness. I in 'As Please' he wrote the columns appear

subject-matter.

asked:'Is Finnegans Wake Joyce's masterpiece,

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

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or is it simply an elephantine ster? crossword puzzle, product of emotional answer arc He the leaned toward latter and summarized the of ility?' Joyce's career in one sentence: 'A novelist is gradually being smothered by a lexi? is still in charge. Although the novelist Orwell as 'a scrapheap to littered with he continued jewels', as a a art work rather than modernist study it collage: 'Ulysses postmodern was someone could not have been written who by merely dabbling with a it is vision of vision the of the of a life, word-patterns; product special Catholic who has lost his faith. What Joyce is saying is, "Here is life without described the book God. innovations, Just look at it!" and his technical are there primarily to serve this purpose' (12: 97). Orwell himself was a secular humanist, willing of England to believe important to pay as they are, (16: 109). cographer' In Ulysses, however,

for his funeral), (as in the instructions in a transcendent remarked that deity. Evelyn Waugh at any point by a conception 'seems never to have been touched Orwell of an notes for thought and life'.13 (Conversely, Orwell's religious uncomplet? cannot ed essay on Waugh that the include 'One [20: 79] premise really be Church unable Catholic kingdom got to be & grown up'.) Orwell's was of heaven must be realized the Children a Socialist on faith, a conviction the surface of the earth: that the 'We have

to the respect but apparently

of God, even though the God of the Prayer Book no longer exists' (12: 126). For Orwell, of life without Joyce's depictions God were more authentic than T S. Eliot's 'ironical elegies on a dying civi? lization'. Eliot's High Church lent an 'I told you so' quality to his viewpoint the squalor of Joyce's post-Catholic poetry, while treatment its (10: 317). by mock-epic saw Orwell among writers Joyce as foremost condition in the aftermath of the Great War. world was lightened only

the modern confronting course, Joyce had paid as as possible to that war: he wanted little attention 'to be a "pure" artist, to "above the battle" and indifferent believed (16: 119). But Orwell politics' that Joyce would have spoken out against the Nazis if he had lived much Of

he fled Paris shortly before his death in January 1941, Joyce longer. When 'must have seen that [the Nazis] had not only broken up the society that he was used to, but were the deadly enemies that he valued. The of everything to be "above" did, after all, concern battle which him fairly he wanted to utter I to think and like that before the end he himself directly, brought on Hitler ? and coming from Joyce itmight some non-neutral comment be quite a stinger' (16: 119). In 1944, three years after Joyce's death, Orwell attacked leftist critics who this artist devalued pure by equating literary quality with political orthodoxy. a provocative He began the essay 'Literature and the Left' with paragraph

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aman of true Genius appears in linking his two Irish literary heroes:'"When are theWorld, know him this Dunces infallible that all the you may by Sign, two wrote in Conspiracy hundred Swift, years against him". So Jonathan before the publication of Ulysses'14 Swift, even more than Joyce, gave Orwell a platform for distinguishing between aesthetic and thematic values. In Gul? liver'sTravels Orwell encountered such profound disgust at human nature that ? and yet he Swift's world-view seemed barely to pass 'the test of sanity' regarded
I first stole

the book
read and

as a supreme work
Iwas read eight the copy one which

of satiric art:
day short was of eight, given to be me exact, next day for on I

it when furtively

to be

my
dozen

eighth birthday
times since.

and I have certainly not


seems inexhaustible.

read it less than half a


If I had to make a

Its fascination

list of six books which


destroyed, the question: Iwould what certainly is the

were
put

to be preserved
Gulliver's Travels between

when
among agreement

all others were


them. with This raises a writer's

relationship

opinions, Orwell's

and enjoyment

of his work?

(18: 428).

in three ways. First, he was drawn to fascination might be explained 'the power and simplicity of Swift's prose' as a supple instrument for convey? nuances tone and timing rather than decorative of anger through ing moral an in Irishman who Michael shared a flat with Orwell Sayers, language. 1935, later remembered him studying texts by Swift and Somerset Maugh? the books to copy out passages from memory. Orwell closing 'I'm trying to find a style which will eliminate the adjective'.15

am, and then The

told Sayers: to Swift's style goes attraction scholar J. F. Futhey contends that Orwell's an or a ideal of and love of transparent prose, beyond homely metaphors or even a with ugliness and foul odors: similes, preoccupation The
Plato's

connected

is to be understood as love of language for both Swift and Orwell with human freedom, right thinking, and truth in the line of
attack on Sophistry. Neither one wants language emasculated.

Both want may


human made

it restored to its right nature ('powerful simplicity') where it deal effectively with a world full of vanity and ostentation, and
beings nightmare deluded by thereby, totalitarianism.16 or, more particularly in Orwell, a world

a second reason for Orwell's fascination with Futhey s analysis indicates Swift: a belief that the satire in Gulliver's Travels prefigures political evil in the on I satiric twentieth Orwell Books the and based II, century. regarded ? as in of and 'almost sizes, premise fairly simplistic changing pathological their hatred of England'. He dwelt on Book III, in which agents of the tyrannical government to produce proof of revolutionary of Tribnia 'decipher' messages conspiracy. This by rearranging 'anagrammatic letters method'

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

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'an extraor? Orwell of Stalinist purges, and he credited Swift with its endless clear of the with state", dinary prevision spy-haunted "police treason to and all neutralize trials, heresy-hunts really designed popular dis? war content by changing it into (18: 243). hysteria' reminded was quick to add that the society and Gulliver, presumably by Swift himself, a so complete state in live of conformity Orwell development equated desire for death: 'They are exempt row and ? except in their feelings the same place in their community and hatred' and Orwell their from of Houyhnhnms is also totalitarian. that it excludes by idealized The freedom 'Reason' with by horses and a

government

(18: 426?27). Orwell's a larger question: how did he maintain its ostensible message? rejecting The question mental

love, friendship, curiosity, fear, sor? rather towards the Yahoos, who occupy ? as the Jews in Nazi Germany anger raises of the interpretation Houyhnhnms his love for Gulliver's Travels while

to Swift: a tempera? points to a third basis for his allegiance a writer with the he called coined anarchist'. Orwell affinity 'Tory to suggest that Swift despised in this oxymoron authority without believing

con? and that he retained an aristocratic outlook while expressing to term for the of his The anarchist' continues tempt aristocracy 'Tory day. as to it 'a Declan for borrows describe Swift both resonate; Kiberd, example, more conservative moralist and a cheeky rebel'.17 But striking is Orwell's to several of his characterization of himself as a 'Tory anarchist'. According liberty, friends, Orwell was unconventionality traditional tastes.18 Orwell written for BBC using this self-description of his leftist politics, which as early as 1931 to stress the combined radical values with

his complex view of Swift in an imaginary interview in 1942, in which inter? he acted as Swift's friendly ? 'I believe Gulliver's Travels skit begins with rogator. The dramatic flattery ? to me has meant more than any book ever written' but quickly poses a dramatized radio

were too hard on humanity, and on your own country'. (For challenge:'You not Ireland.) The 'own country' is England, Swift's Orwell, script allows new evils in wartime Lon? Swift to rail against 'Progress', and to catalogue noxious don: noisy machines, fumes and bombed-out petrol ugly buildings. But after Swift reads a few resounding his voice passages from his work, fades away and Orwell
He was a great man, at a time. His analysis

provides
and vision He yet

a coda:
he was partly blind. He could only and person see yet one in sees,

thing the

of human couldn't

last

it's false.

society see what

is so penetrating, the simplest

that life is worth


ridiculous, suppose he are mostly couldn't

living
have

and human
But after written

beings,
all,

even
Ah

if they're dirty
have seen let him well, rest

and
I in

decent.

if he

could

that,

Gullivers

Travels.

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peace

in Dublin,

where,

in

the words

of his

epitaph,

'Savage

indignation

can no longer lacerate his heart' (14: 154?163). If Joyce offered beast Nineteen provided models for for Orwell's realistic fiction in the 1930s, Swift 1940s, Animal Farm and

the dystopian novels of the as a the of Soviet Communism Recasting history Eighty-Four. on a tone ironic it Farm relies of restraint. While Animal fable, (1945) inspiration

the nar? the betrayal of an ideal, the allure of that ideal pervades a pig who in the song that comes in a dream to Old Major, rative, especially seems to represent Karl Marx. The vision of equality in his lyric (8: 7?8) ? ? 'Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland' gains added power from a refrain unites two island nations. that symbolically chronicles Farm may reflect another Irish influence, although T. R. is 'the of Orwell's novel, says Fyvel, only work to have discussed with his wife', the former Eileen which he is known ancestors in the Eileen's Irish had from emigrated O'Shaughnessy. Galway in north of nineteenth and she the grew up century, (Sunder early England The charm an indirect one. This an honours in from Oxford with land on Wearside). She graduated degree at various jobs in London, where she met Orwell, and ven? English, worked to Spain (during tured outside the country only to travel with her husband France and Morocco. letters the Civil War), She never visited Ireland. Her and Fyvel surmises that and easygoing, reveal a lively and brave spirit, witty tone free of savage indignation: to keep the novel's she helped 'if Animal Farm is a tale Owellian"), of Eileen and the light touch of her bright, humorous intelligence'.19 Eileen There is no 'light touch' in Nineteen died during Eighty-Four. gery His final novel at forty-nine in March in June published ? from tuberculosis ? 1945, and Orwell's own so perfect in its light touch and restraint (almost "un some to I think the conversational influence of the credit is due sur? of Animal

soon began to deteriorate. health before his death 1949, just seven months is stylistically from veering fragmented,

to manifesto Goldstein), (an interpolated by Emmanuel political polemics scenes on 'Newspeak'), to brutally realistic academic analysis (an Appendix an urbane sadist of interrogation and torture. The novel's grand inquisitor, is named Martin O'Brien. and Party mouthpiece, In a story filled with such Parsons, Syme Charrington, several critics have offered distinctly andWinston names English Smith,'O'Brien' as Ampleforth, ? stands out and

clever interpretations linking him to Conor to even 'as a vehicle of guilt' to Cruise O'Brien, Shaw and Bernard George of English Eileen O'Shaughnessy and to the history tyranny in Ireland.20 to is that his satire The most Orwell wanted likely explanation generalize to institutions he Communism the other Soviet Party beyond by relating considered rigidly hierarchical and repressive. Several Party doctrines and

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? a such as the attempt to stifle sexuality, with practices parody Catholicism ? even presses and O'Brien only for procreation plan to allow intercourse is geocentric Winston Smith to agree that the universe the (9: 278). Thus, as the novel's of 'O'Brien' arch-villain may designation association Church. of Ireland with the Orwell's stereotypical Orwell Swift, mentaries chose on W the title have 'Politics but he could simply reflect

B.Yeats.

vs. Literature' for his seminal essay on as com? his used this formulation for just easily as he loved the 'sheer verbal beauty' of As much

the poetry, he hated the reactionary of the poet, which seemed philosophy to be embodied in in enemies War II. Yeats World had died by England's war was in 1943, the before 1939, seven months began; Orwell writing ? with the war's outcome still in doubt and when he used the term 'Fascist' to describe Yeats's
He ery, But tion, noblemen bottomed is a great the at if

political
hater of

sympathies,
of above to see

he was
the modern all, that the the

not hurling
world, idea new ... of

idle abuse:
machin? . . .

concept the same

of democracy, ? progress he fails be faces,

science, human

equality. civiliza? be ruled shiny

time will

authoritarian It will not

it arrives, with Van

not

aristocratic. but by

by

Dyck

anonymous

millionaires, (14: 281-82).

bureaucrats,

and murdering

gangsters

an unsigned col? that Orwell's Literary Supplement suggested political 'One feels that, in him, poli? had distorted his literary sensibility: priorities a vice as an aberration, an irresistible tics is not so much itch that he cannot A few weeks after these comments appeared in Horizon, umn in the Times a sort of water-tight and religious political As the notion 'that poetry exists in replied by ridiculing or rather thought-tight of its own. A writer's world beliefs will always colour his aesthetic achievements, is one necessary and to trace the connection function of criticism' (14: 285). leave alone'.21 Orwell

an aside, Orwell a "marching asked: 'Did not Yeats write song" for more was was com? Blueshirts?'The but the accurate, story O'Duffy's gibe was to Yeats version Fascism the Irish of attracted plex. briefly propounded was popularly Association whose Army Comrades identi? by Eoin O'Duffy, fied for the Blueshirts, by its blue paramilitary garb. The verses Yeats wrote were deliberate? 'Three Songs to the Same Tune' included that lines (1934), -

ly provocative: What's
Historic From

equality?
nations above

Muck

in the yard:

grow

to below.

Within

a few months, however, Yeats excised so that they could not be sung, and distanced

those himself

lines, revised the verses from O'Duffy, whom

24

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he came

or not Orwell to regard as a buffoon.22 Whether reconsiderations when he wrote his commentaries must have seemed an irresistible

knew on Yeats

about in Orwell

these 1943, had

O'Duffy reviewed

in Spain, O'Duffy's Irish brigade Crusade glorified in the Spanish Civil War. As a veteran of that war of pro-Franco volunteers ? an ? anti-Franco Orwell volunteer, seriously wounded by a Fascist sniper found Crusade in Spain factually and ideologically distorted. He concluded: bled in Spain do seem in one way to have resem? 'General O'Duffy's adventures a crusade in that they were a frightful muddle in and led to nothing (11: 235). to his conservative linked O'Duffy's Catholi? reactionary politics tried to draw a similar connection between Yeats's 'sinister' social must in the idea 'that knowledge beliefs, for example to a small circle of initiates' limited (14: 282). Orwell

In 1938 target. account of his

particular' Orwell cism. He views be claimed review

and his occult never

a secret ?

read Yeats's A Vision, but on the basis of a book under ? The Development William Butler Yeats by V. K. Narayana Menon of 'a hocus-pocus he summarized the premises of the later poetry: of Great of the disembodied moon, Wheels, reincarnation, gyres, cycles spirits, it Orwell found (14: 280). As an arch-rationalist, astrology, and what-not' fun of Yeats's and to suggest that this Irish easy to make 'yogey-bogey', ? ? sane. writer like Swift have been just barely might is As in the case of Swift, however, Orwell instability argued that mental was a not incompatible Yeats with for Orwell pre? literary genius. problem it he and when the poetry was so rich and moving, quoting on to had be swathes of what he memory, reprinting professed relying only learned by heart. He was sometimes irritated by Yeats's deliberate archaisms cisely because 'can also pro? that these very qualities after effect', but noted "the footless mackerel-crowded chill, seas") which phrases ("the years", seen a a one across face room' overwhelm like (14: 280). In suddenly girl's on most his final remarks the Irish poet he found Orwell paid compelling, and 'straining duce tribute held to an artistic some absurd rivaling that of James Joyce: beliefs, and he may have never not that he did possess, but he would dedication or undesirable what with 'Yeats may laid claim have to a

thing, to have

mystic wisdom stances have committed devoted to poetry

he regarded as an aesthetic a completeness that has been very rare among the and results it' the (15: 71). justified English-speaking peoples, Orwell's passages from two plays, The Hour quotes from Yeats included Glass and The Only Jealousy ofEmer, but he treated them as detached lyrics a dramatic was an astute he wrote context. This omission he was was not literary analyst, reviews of plays and movies symptomatic. Although at home in the theatre. In for the journal Time and

in any circum? . sin. . . His life was

without Orwell 1940?41

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

25

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Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus edited the Tide, but when (his second wife) four-volume Collected Letters, Journalism, and Essays of George Orwell (1968), to them. all of the reviews and even avoided they omitted referring 'a decent veil' over this for drawing 'The writing, few exceptions, is hasty, heavy-handed and material: with banal. Plainly, Orwell did the reviews as a job and had little liking for either Bernard Crick commends the editors
theatre or film.'23

came during his stint as a BBC venture a series on dramatic he classics; each (1941?43), organized producer brief from had scenes read by professional actors, preceded commentary by on a literary figure Yeats's The Hour-Glass). Orwell (such as James Stephens Orwell's only other theatrical when Man was do' on George commentaries Bernard Shaw's Arms and the presented case he cited the in and Oscar Wilde's Windemere's and each Fan, Lady a as Irish origins the discussion way of keeping breezy. Shaw playwright's himself able to thrive and able to look at it from as a satirist of English the outside society 'because he was an Irishman as a native Englishman could hardly

weakness for melodramatic than (14: 325). And Wilde's plots was more 'he has the light touch that balanced by his facility with sparkling dialogue: ones ? forWilde, like most of Irish writers more often possess than English the best English dramatists was an Irishman'.24 Orwell did not pursue these insights any further, and the low priority he was one of his greatest liabilities as a critic of Irish literature. to drama gave When he honoured for example, her reviewing Lady Gregory's Journals, ? a as of the Irish peasantry 'an enlightened aristocrat' merely champion ? a to failed her and great patron of the arts (who generosity) appreciate as playwright her achievements and dramatic collaborator (19: neglecting same review alluded to the riots at the Abbey Theatre follow? 131-34).The of Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars, but it is ing the 1926 premiere ever read or saw this play. If he had, he might not clear that Orwell have as a twice about nationalist. O'Casey thought characterizing knee-jerk they 1945 Orwell's highlighted s Green volume of O'Casey The review, entitled'The Flag', autobiography. ? rested on the dubious premise that Irish writers those especially living in ? as a did ('almost immune position England, O'Casey enjoyed privileged seems time from criticism') because of the guilty conscience of Britons.'It to revise Cromwell's our 'for there is no real reason why wrote, attitude,' Orwell a bad or indifferent massacres should cause us to mistake book ridiculed O'Casey's (17: 332). Orwell 'which gives an unbearable effect in portrayal of himself and his of narcissism', 'Why tolerated is it that the worst when come of jingoism and racialism have to be an Irishman?' This tendentious question review of Drums Under the third theWindows, extremes from

for a good one' the third-person,

26

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Irish word-play: 'a sort of Basic Joyce'. But O'Casey's pri? in laments over the of his abuse mary England, culminating executions that followed the 1916 Easter Rising. While that the admitting were on their literary 'a crime and mistake', executions Orwell focused ? the uncritical of'Easter 1916' as a acceptance particularly implications one can an not it is But how work: better ofYeats's poems. great 'Actually was on conscious that his country that and many other wrong Englishman, self-conscious offence was occasions, political say any thing of the kind? So literary judgment is perverted by (17: 333). sympathy' had ended his book O'Casey ? is born' but then muted beauty dear, dead men; poor W

? 'A terrible refrain by quoting Yeats's its rhetoric with his own final line: 'Poor, of such nuances. One ignored that Orwell had 'no taste observes he could

B. Yeats.' Orwell

Garry O'Connor, O'Casey's biographers, for the emotional of Irishmen; volatility as expressed in the book was nationalism often not even cutting, just sending a more
seriousness.'25

not see that O'Casey's ? a two-edged much sword very it with itself up. He addressed deadly He dismissed which as 'bom? described

Orwell's bast'
her as

review

included paeans

literal mistake. Ni

one

of O'Casey's

to Cathleen

Houlihan,

of men that in battle array in heart and ready in hand, Ready March with banner and bugle and fife Singing
To the death, for their native land.

these lines as a simplistic of Irish nationalism, expression Interpreting a native Orwell assumed that they had been written poet, perhaps even by ? In fact, the lines came from Tennyson's 'Maud' and himself. by O'Casey over the next as evidence decade O'Casey that this renowned tired of citing Orwell's misattribution critic was ignorant of his own liter? English in the Observer, 'The Green Flag' appeared never

The ary heritage. day after a fired off letter to the editor O'Casey dice, and boasting knows about my complaint at their directed comment received
government.26

that 'I know country'. the 'special

of anti-Irish accusing Orwell preju? than he far and away more about England But O'Casey, in turn, misread whose Orwell,

in England was status' enjoyed by Irish writers treatment critics. took the O'Casey overly generous by as a sneer at his financial and that comfort, royalties he replied were sources to from British exceeded the British by taxes he paid about paragraph ran for 743 words) was

letter (the first O'Casey's rambling in the Observer.The refused publication on to Orwell, who did not respond,

editor,J. C.Trewin, simply to O'Casey thus proving

passed it that this

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

27

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of free champion review. His notes that Orwell Windows from Gollancz had

speech was a fraud. He continued ? to friends became more shrill called for the

to stew over Orwell's

implicitly and reached a new

asserting, for example, of Drums Under the 'suppression'

requesting believed, was the source with and a festering James Joyce, belittled his talent. 'He was like

he found the decade-old letter pitch when a blurb for A Clergyman's Daughter. Here, O'Casey a crazed ambition to rank of Orwell's animosity: resentment a wolf mad the man against with the mange', against the Jew.'27 who had O'Casey

Hitler was a wolf mad with wrote,'as In 1954, four years after Orwell's grievances and added divide between one more. His political satires on Soviet ist who never indeed! Rather No

jaundice all these collected death, O'Casey dramatized the essay 'Rebel Orwell' and the author Orwell of two classic as an apostate Social? the condition of society'.'Rebel

a staunch Communist caricatured

did

itself away from the problems of a a in He and attrib? him; always living.... running away fight yielding.' uted the darkness in Orwell's final novels to a sense of impending death that as as him haunted the of Ani? 1944, composition presumably early during to die with the living world him', and so he 'dying, he wanted into Nineteen the world's beasts'. then became people Eighty-Four an attempt 'to drag all life down with Orwell's himself Book', 'Doomsday into his own stony despair'.28 After O'Casey his full-scale assault, published to Rex Mac Gall:'Orwell's in exhilaration review was an attack on he wrote mal Farm: 'turned as on me, and I defended and Ireland from him. myself to do it.'29 Orwell had to be told a thing or two, and Iwas the man two at their this shows whole affair great writers Unfortunately, dreary Ireland the other of narrow each reading the nationalism, accusing as an and imitator of each the other inferior James carelessly deriding to their national stereo? seemed to be living up (or down) Joyce. Both men sense of Irish literature condescension, types: Orwell's severity and uneven were matched In and self-importance. truculence, by O'Casey's verbosity worst, other each the Irish Press Gabriel was safely Long given British dead word. after both men the names of were dead, it was revealed that Orwell in 1949 had to the 135 'Crypto-Communists and Fellow-Travellers' Office. When the government's Information Research intellectuals defenders suffered and artists have had volunteered as progres? a list of those he that this list scepticism Fall?n criticized him,30 to 'pulverize' for waiting until his enemy O'Casey but it was Orwell who had the last as well

tyranny. O'Casey 'a hand's turn' to improve a yielding blob that buried

depressing

Foreign was Department sive voices considered was not

trying to recruit leftist Orwell against Communism, His unsuitable (20: 240-259). and that no persons

a blacklist

argued from Orwell's

28

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about remains

their

qualifications

as anti-Communist because

disturbing, partly most of the 135 names Although as well as famous Americans (Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, Orson Welles) Irishmen Bernard Liam (Peadar O'Donnell, Shaw). O'Flaherty, George Sean O'Casey made the list, of course, and next to his name Orwell wrote:
'Very stupid'.

its bases

but the list propagandists,31 of judgment look so nebulous. are English, Orwell included several

Orwell's

ultimate

contributions

to Irish Studies

Swift scholars still regard his commentary Many In 2001, for example, critical touchstone. declared that Claude Rawson a and of 'Orwell's probing, controversial classic Swift criticism, subtle, essay, or not one shares and suggestive is amodel of responsible enquiry, whether

seem decidedly mixed. on Gulliver's Travels as a

is rarely cited by contemporary his opinions.'32 On the other hand, Orwell whom few of his for share (or faith in) transparent lan? Joyceans, preference obsession with have been most for Orwell's guage. Ulysses may important its effect, good or bad, on his own early fiction. to pose questions All the Irish writers Orwell discussed helped or to literary value. relation of belief, whether religious political, cerns about Yeats's 'Fascism' may narrow look today, but in the were shared by several Irish writers, Sean O'Faolain including and were O'Connor, line. Whereas harder later revived Orwell about His 1940s the con?

imagine him exulting regime. But O'Brien by a collaborationist it in Orwell's dox and phrased familiar loathe

Cruise O'Brien, by Conor Yeats could naive, O'Brien merely thought in an England and an Ireland run by Nazis occupied finally arrived at a critical para? style: 'How can those of us who

they and Fr?*hk who took a

not merely to admire but to love the poetry, such politics continue, a political and perhaps most of all the poems with bearing?'33 to illustrate Conor the continuing rele? Cruise O'Brien himself helps vance of Orwell in Ireland: as a model of humanistic criticism, engaging as an enemy of O'Brien literature as a social act. Like Orwell, has written colonialism and violent and as an unorthodox nationalism leftist challeng? on own those side. his Orwell's 'clear and ing eye' 'spare, tough prose' have to cite him as a mentor.34 And O'Brien is not alone. Orwell led O'Brien attractive to Catalonia

to younger Irish writers, such as Colm T?ib?n, who used as a as historical, as ethical well for his own med? Homage guide, on who itations the city of Barcelona.35 Or Joseph O'Connor, calls Orwell's 'the Works ultimate touchstone' of Complete 'Anyone who good writing: cares about literature, politics, or the English will find language enlighten? remains ment, laughter, moral purpose 'To insist on the limitations establish the limits within in his work.'36 and sheer pleasure of Orwell's thought', O'Brien says,'is only to which we admire him'.37 One of those limitations

'Orwell's Ireland', Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

29

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was

a sense of Englishness so resolute that it sometimes became provincial, a and in 1946 O'Brien in Orwell's essays on diagnosed 'retrograde' nostalgia a saw O'Brien After Orwell's culture.38 death, English popular larger value in people, in his own cludes, defended proud national identity: a belief ? and an earnest effort sometimes in the decency of ordinary English ? to unsuccessful realize that ideal

Orwell's

con? life and writing. 'What should be remembered', O'Brien a man 'is the free, candid, often mistaken mind of who asserted and human decency: it to be.'39 amore disconcerting enterprise than he original?

ly reckoned

Notes
1

and References
'Orwell Looks at theWorld' Akenson

Donald 2

in Conor: A Biography ed. of Conor Cruise O'Brien: Anthology, Press, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell 1994), p. 50. University 7 July 1941, in The Compete Works 'War Time ed. Peter Davison Diary', of George Orwell, ? Seeker and 12: 525. All citations Orwell from essays, letters, (London: 1998), Warburg, ? are and fiction drawn from this twenty-volume edition. Whenever volume possible, Harmon and page references see will be Works, on a cited parenthetically 18: 431; for Yeats, in Orwell in the text. 16: 189. Coppard was born and 15: 71; for Parnell, Remembered, p. 251. his mother saved his Irish. He life in of in the aftermath

3 4

For Paul

Swift, Potts,

Complete

'Quixote

Bernard

Crick

5 Complete Works, New York City, the 1916 Easter 6 T. R. 7

Bicycle' Facts on File, (NewYork: 19: 409. De Valera's father and his American

ed. Audrey

1984), was Spanish, probably

citizenship

Rising. George Orwell: A Personal Memoir see Bernard For examples of this prejudice, of the few Scottish 1981), p. 263. One guin, see 16: 408-410. Smollett; Complete Works, Fyvel, Works, Williams, 3: 176. The '"The debt Unpaid

(NewYork: Crick, writers

Macmillan, 1982), p. 182. Pen? George Orwell: A Life (London: was Tobias Orwell treated seriously

8 Complete by Keith

of A Clergyman's Agitator": 4 Krause

James Agee' 9 The Letters Nineteen

Joyce Quarterly, XXXVI, James ed. David of Sean O'Casey,

to Ulysses has been examined Daughter on George Influence Orwell and (Summer 1999), 729-763. Joyce's (New York: Macmillan, had an eagle.' 1981), letter:'Orwell that of Macmillan, 1975), as much See I, 541. chance and the

his years later, O'Casey amplified as a tit has of reaching the stature of Joyce Star in Sean O'Casey: Evening Autobiographies discussion below the Orwell?O'Casey Portrait discusses 'Orwell's 1991), on pp. 74-86. relation of

rejection of reaching (London:

Sunset and

II, 547

10 Valerie

Meyers St Martin's Press, comments Adversary

controversy. of the Artist'

in her George

Orwell

(New York:

11

For Age's

Bowling's

(London:

Apocalypse: Coming 12 Quoted in Complete as a poet, Orwell In his admiration ans' and 'Proteus' of Ulysses. for Joyce chapters ? in the final chapter declared that 'Are you not weary of ardent ways' of A interpolated ? was Portrait of theArtist in English'. 'the only successful villanelle Orwell praised Joyce's to Stephen technical without this sexual-religious meditation Dedalus's mastery relating development. See Complete Works, 16: 492.

see Patrick to Bloom, George Orwell: The Reilly, and Jeffrey Meyers, 'Orwell's pp. 217-235; 1968), 1 Fiction Modern 69-80. Studies, XXI, 1975), Up for Air', (Spring 16: 110. The in the 'Lestrygoni Works, passages appear, respectively, Macmillan,

30

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13 Waugh's Orwell's 14 Complete

comment Critical Works,

appeared Essays. 15: 125. Orwell

in The Tablet, April

6,

1946,

p. 176, the word

as part

of his

review

of

mistakenly

substituted

'Conspiracy'

for Swift's

'Confederacy'. 15 Quoted in George Orwell Bowker (London: Abacus, 2004), p. 176. by Gordon 16 J. R. Futhey,'For in Orwell X 8: A Symposium, the Love of Language: Orwell and Swift', ed. J.M. Richardson P. Frye, 1986), p. 34. Ronald (Winnipeg: 17 'Jonathan in Irish Classics MA: Harvard Swift: A Colonial Uni? Outsider', (Cambridge, versity 18 Rayner Richard burg, 19 Press, 2000), p. 74. Four Absentees Orwell: Fugitive Barrie the Camp discovered Orwell, Piece of and Rockcliff, of Victory letters ed. Peter the 1960), p. 32. See also Seeker and War? (London: further illustrations Timewell Review of

Heppenstahl, Rees, 1961). George

(London: from

pp. 137?38. Recently Fyvel, George Orwell, Eileen's See The Lost attractive personality. Press, 2006); and D. J. Taylor, pp. 4-7. Cruise 'Another

offer Davison

Puzzle',

The

(London: Guardian

20

10, 2005), (December For discussion of Conor A Study ed. Richard ica, 2000), in Europe: University of "Donat

O'Brien,

see Owen

O'Donnell'"

in Ideas Matter:

Edwards,'Maria Dudley inHonour Essays of Conor

Cross Cruise

Roads: O'Brien,

and Joseph Morrison Press of Amer? (Lanham, MD: University English Skelley For George Bernard Last Intellectual Shaw, see Richard pp. 365-69. Rorty'The on in Contingency, Orwell (NewYork: Cruelty' Irony, and Solidarity Cambridge see Lawrence 169-188. For Eileeen M. Porter, Press, 1989), pp. O'Shaughnessy, Orwell, ed. Jonathan His com?

versus Socialism in Nineteen in The Revised 'Psychomachia Eighty-Four Rose State University Press, 1991), pp. 61-74. (East Lansing: Michigan as the novelist 21 The has been columnist identified Charles anonymous ments 22 Richard 280-81; are reprinted in Complete Works, Yeats: The Man and W B.Yeats: 14: 283?85. the Masks

Morgan.

Ellmann, and R.

F. Foster,

23 24

471-480. See (The Arch-Poet), Finneran Macmillan, (NewYork: Crick, p. 384. George Orwell,

Norton, (New York: W.W 1979), pp. II Oxford Press, 2003), University also The Complete Poems of W B. Yeats, ed. Richard J. I (The Poems Revised), and 706-09. pp. 572-75 1989), A Life (Oxford:

an appreciative 15: 335. Orwell later wrote review ofWilde's The Soul of Complete Works, as a reminder Man Under Socialism of the Socialist ideal of human brother? (19: 333-34) In 1947 he told George Woodcock:'I've hood. very pro-Wilde' always been (Complete 15: 157). Works, The A Life (London: Hodder Sean O'Casey: Letters of Sean O'Casey, II, 297-98. 'Rebel The Orwell' in Sunset and Evening III, 125. O'Casey' an and Stoughton, 1988), p. 351.

25 26

27 Ibid, III, 48.


28 29 30 Star, pp. 540-552. in The Letters of Sean Letters of Sean O'Casey, to Sean Letter III, 99. Hitchens offers 2002), God, pp. Gulliver, Oxford especially 155-169. spirited defence of Orwell in Orwell's Victory

'An Open O'Casey,

(March

30,

1955),

reprinted

31

Christopher

32

(London: Penguin, Claude Rawson, ?492-?945

33

'Yeats

and

(NewYork: Fascism: What of O'Faolain

the views p. 366.

and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination, Press, 2001), p. 365. University on in Akenson Beast' (ed.), Conor, p. 81. For comment Rough see Owen and O'Connor, Cross Edwards,'Maria Roads', Dudley

'Orwell's Ireland7, Irish Review 36-37 (2007) KERRANE,

31

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34

'In Search 23, 1973,

35 Homage 36 On-line

of Morality: Conor Cruise O'Brien talks to Brian Inglis', at theWorld', Looks p. 51. p. 235; and O'Brien,'Orwell to Barcelona Simon and Schuster Ltd., 1990). (London: at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writerdetails.asp?z=y&cid= at theWorld', p. 51. The 1968, Bell, XII, p. 798. 3 (June 1946),

The Listener,

August

1118194#interview 37 38 39 'Orwell 'Raffles, 'Honest Looks Stalin Men',

and George Orwell', 12 Dec. The Listener,

167-171.

32

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