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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Graves & Orwell, also St. Peter
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 12:14:03 

Alice Turner wrote:
> Alex,
> Why don't you see if your friend who wrote the St. Peter paper for Kessel
> can send it to you as an email attachment? Then you could forward it to
> those of us who would like to read it, me for instance.

I will.  Chaffee (author of the paper) is out of town until Friday, but I'll
ask him when he gets back if he has an electronic copy.  Anyone who wants a
copy can write me (off-list).

> I don't think Orwell is as forgotten as you think. Check out Amazon.
> Literally dozens of editions of Animal Farm and 1984. Half a dozen
> biographies within the last 20 years. Oodles of Cliff notes and the rest.
> And I frequently run into an essay on him in some place like The New York
> Review of Books. The last one was pretty recent, and the essayist argued
> that his best book was Homage to Catalonia and his worst (which he admitted)
> Keep the Aspidistra Flying. But even that is still in print. Serious
> journalists still study Orwell for form, as well they might. Especially for
> war coverage. I'd bet anyone that Roger Cohen, researching his new book on
> Bosnia that is getting such raves, read Orwell.

	I suppose so; perhaps it's just that Orwell sometimes doesn't get the
full respect that he deserves?  I think the most well-read crowd does know
Orwell, and especially among literati in England the essays and such are very
big.  I'd say though that the second-tier of readers does tend to think of him
as a one-trick-pony author of anti-Communist dystopias.  In other words, if you
get your education in English literature from classes at American universities,
that's all you'd know about him (someone the other day said she was surprised
to see him on the Modern Library list, and asked me "So Orwell was a
journalist, too?")  As opposed to Kipling and Chesterton who were once very
big, and still matter a great deal to a certain crowd (in his day Orwell wrote
an essay about the distaste for Kipling, but suggested Kipling would endure),
but seem to be completely missing in most English Lit. departments.
	I would contend that their importance at the time (think how often
Chesterton comes up in other people's writing of his day--Eliot, for example)
would merit more of a place in the classroom.  But people who have
extra-curricular literary knowledge (which does not include most English
majors) do tend to know them.  
	And yes, Graves is still alive & well.  I like Graves, but don't think
you can argue he's had much less attention than he deserves.  Kipling lives
everywhere except in the classroom (mainly because he's one of the great
English makers of fiction, and thus hard to hold down).
	As to Chesterton, I think he's important and a major figure in any
complete picture of his time.  He appears to be alive for Wolfe in the same way
that he is for most real Chesterton fans; we almost speak of him as a dead very
good friend we never happened to meet.  Chesterton fans in general tend to be
people who somewhat agree with his religious and social ideas--thus Wolfe and
Lafferty (or myself).  Although Orwell was given to defending Chesterton and
certainly thought his religious ideas were foolish, and Martin Gardner isn't
exactly Catholic in thought.  But I think Chesterton should be really annoying
if you strongly disagree with him or even are just unsympathetic.
	Which leads to a thesis about Wolfe:  if you tend to agree with Wolfe's
ideas that's icing on the cake, but you could HATE most the
religious-philosophical-political matrix underlying his works and still love
the writing and be a Wolfe devotee (for instance, John Kessel adores Wolfe's
work, but I think I can safely say politically and religiously they'd be at
each other's throats in a moment).  This does set a writer apart from someone
like Chesterton, who is fun, and a master at what he does, but seems likely to
be unrewarding to anyone who dislikes his world-view, although lovable in a way
that Wolfe isn't to those who agree (Wolfe can be Chestertonian in his essays,
though--I admired Wolfe as a writer before I read any of his non-fiction, but
only felt a great liking for him as a man once I'd read some of his essays).
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)
Senior (Computer Science/Multidisciplinary Studies in Technology & Fiction)
'98-99 NCSU AITP Student Chapter President
608 Charleston Road, Apt. 1E (919)-233-7366

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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