George Orwell was first and foremost an essayist. From his earliest published article in 1928 to his untimely death in 1950, he produced an extraordinary array of short non-fiction that reflected - and illuminated - the fraught times in which he lived and wrote. 'As soon as he began to write something,' comments George Packer in his foreword to this new two-volume collection, 'it was as natural for Orwell to propose, generalize, qualify, argue, judge - in short, to think - as it was for Yeats to versify or Dickens to invent.'
This collection charts Orwell's development as a master of the narrative-essay form and unites classics such as 'Shooting an Elephant' with lesser-known journalism and passages from his wartime diary. Whether detailing the horrors of Orwell's boyhood in an English boarding school or bringing to life the sights, sounds, and smells of the Spanish Civil War, these narrative essays weave together the personal and the political in an unmistakable style that is at once plain-spoken and brilliantly complex.