"AS I WRITE, HIGHLY CIVILIZED HUMAN BEINGS ARE FLYING OVERHEAD, TRYING TO KILL ME": FIRST EDITION OF ORWELL'S ENGLAND YOUR ENGLAND
ORWELL, George. England Your England and Other Essays. London: Secker & Warburg, 1953. Octavo, original green cloth, original dust jacket. $450.
First edition of a major posthumous collection of eleven essays by Orwell, eight written in the 1940s, the last decade of his life, including "Why I Write" and the title essay, "England Your England," a handsome copy in the original dust jacket.
"Before anything else, Orwell was an essayist." In England Your England, his voice is again peerless: "once you've heard it, how do you get it out of your head? It feels like truth." Of the volume’s eleven essays, eight were written during WWII and its aftermath, when Orwell had come to believe that the "world would find itself split again… and literature will simply not survive. This is the landscape of 1984" (All Art is Propaganda, ix, xxii-xxv). The book takes its title from the inclusion of his momentous 1941 essay, which "contains the key to Orwell's argument about patriotism and socialism. It begins with one of those unforgettable opening Orwell was master of. 'As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.'" With German planes bombing Britain in nighttime raids, "Orwell wanted patriotism to be a force for political and social change… he recognized the potential force of patriotism not only at this moment but also as a historical phenomenon in English history" (Cambridge Companion, 93-5). Included, from the same decade, are: Inside the Whale (1940); Looking Back on the Spanish War (1943); Poetry and the Microphone (1945); Notes on Nationalism (1945); Anti-Semitism in Britain (1945); Why I Write (1947); Writers and Leviathan (1948). Also featuring three works from the 1930s: Marrakech (1939), and two excerpts from Road to Wigan Pier (1937): North and South; Down in the Mine. Fenwick D.5a. Trace of bookplate removal.
Text fine, mild toning to spine; nearly pristine original dust jacket. A highly desirable about-fine copy.