Narrative Essays, By George Orwell

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The Independent Culture

In late 1938, still frail after the Spanish Civil War, Orwell went to Morocco and wrote "Marrakech". Faced with a respectful column of colonial troops from Senegal, meekly serving France, he notes – this in the heyday of blithe, oblivious travel writing – "How much longer can we go on kidding these people? How long before they turn their guns in the other direction?"

For all his literary cunning (did he ever shoot that elephant?), the fast track to a core of truth that Orwell's essays take on every page can still make your hair stand on end.

This superb volume culls many classics, from "A Hanging" to "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad". With an equally well-chosen (by George Packer) companion volume of Critical Essays, it delivers to newcomers and aficionados a crash-course in the arts of close observing, free thinking - and crystalline writing.