“The Road to Wigan Pier” by George Orwell


Wikipedia says:

The Road to Wigan Pier is a book by the British writer George Orwell, first published in 1937. The first half of this work documents his sociological investigations of the bleak living conditions amongst the working class in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the industrial north of England before World War II. The second half is a long essay on his middle-class upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, questioning British attitudes towards socialism. Orwell states plainly that he himself is in favour of socialism; but feels it necessary to point out reasons why many people who would benefit from socialism, and should logically support it, are in practice likely to be strong opponents.

We discussed this in September, when 10 people were present for the meeting. Whilst its hard to avoid the political with a book like, the group managed to keep fairly well to the book itself although several people remarked that they thought there were many resemblances to our current situation.

On the whole, the book was enjoyed despite its faults with most (but not all) thinking the first, more descriptive part was better than the last, political, analytical half. Votes cast ranged from 5 to 9 with an average score of just over 7.

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  1. malcolmbbc

     /  September 20, 2013

    From Bill:

    I thoroughly agree with your review, Michelle.

    He was a very honest man, though, Orwell, and full of petty prejudices just like the rest of us; but he was also a very brave man, full of integrity, as well as opinions. Of his writings, the book of essays is perhaps the most informative – and still relevant, though my personal favourite is “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”.

  2. malcolmbbc

     /  September 20, 2013

    From Michelle:

    I’ve read the book and found it very interesting and entertaining. Orwell seems to me to be full of contradictions. He talks about breaking down barriers but then comes out with some of the most cracking insults about other people I’ve ever read. Just a few that spring to mind, referring to people who live in Sheffield as troglodytes and being generally viscous about fruit juice drinkers, feminists and vegetarians. There’s a passage where he describes 2 men getting on a bus, wearing tight khaki shorts that show every dimple, one of them with a lloyd george haircut and the other obscenely bald! He’s also not shy about insulting other contemporary authors, it made me wonder what sort of reaction the book had and how popular it made him.

    All the stuff about miners and back to back housing and the poverty in the working towns was interesting. I probably found the sections about socialism a bit less so, but overall I really enjoyed reading it.


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