English Writing and Total War

Orwell, George
November 1954
New Republic;11/22/54, Vol. 131 Issue 21, p56
This article presents information on the history and development and of English language. future. The so-called Communist writers dominated the 1930s, and they had begun to lose their unity and self-confidence long before the Russo-German pact was signed. The Spanish Civil War, with its orgies of lying and its frightening revival of the war propaganda of 1914-18, drove away the more talented of them, and no organized group has arisen to take their place. Editors and publishers report that the output of verse has risen since the war, but one has only to glance at the magazines to see that its average quality has not. The literary standard of "New Writing," the bi-yearly publication which used to be the rallying point of the left-wing intelligentsia, has deteriorated markedly. Novels are still being published, but they are terribly bad ones. For 20 years literature in England has been parasitic on itself. The practitioners of the arts are so numerous that they themselves form a public, and the high-brow weeklies and monthlies are essentially trade papers. The mere poverty of the postwar world will alter this.


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