Keep the Aspidistra Flying

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Harcourt, Brace, 1969 - Fiction - 248 pages
4 Reviews
Writing in his best satirical vein, Orwell tells the story of Gordon Comstock, a poor young man who works by day in a grubby London bookstore and spends his evenings shivering in a rented room, trying to write. He is determined to stay free of the "money world" of lucrative jobs, family responsibilities, and the kind of security symbolized for him by the homely, indestructible potted aspidistra that stands in every middle-class British window. His sweetheart, Rosemary, understands him and is patient with his pride and the pretensions of his poverty. But then, as happens with lovers, events overtake them.

Despite its poignancy and merciless wit, hope does break through in this book's upbeat ending - a tribute to the stubborn virtues of ordinary people, who keep the aspidistra flying.

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It's hard to enjoy a book when you find the main character annoying as I did reading this book. Orwell himself hated this book and only wrote it because he needed money.

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David Pascoe
Limited preview - 2001
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About the author (1969)

George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903 in Motihari in Bengal, India and later studied at Eton College for four years. He was an assistant superintendent with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. He left that position after five years and moved to Paris, where he wrote his first two books: Burmese Days and Down and Out in Paris and London. He then moved to Spain to write but decided to join the United Workers Marxist Party Militia. After being decidedly opposed to communism, he served in the British Home Guard and with the Indian Service of the BBC during World War II. After the war, he wrote for the Observer and was literary editor for the Tribune. His best known works are Animal Farm and 1984. His other works include A Clergyman's Daughter, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, The Road to Wigan Pier, Homage to Catalonia, and Coming Up for Air. He died on January 21, 1950 at the age of 46.

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