Paperback, 224 pages

English language

Published April 12, 2003 by Basic Books.

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3 stars (1 review)

Why Orwell Matters, released in the UK as Orwell's Victory, is a book-length biographical essay by Christopher Hitchens. In it, the author relates George Orwell's thoughts on and actions in relation to: The British Empire, the Left, the Right, the United States of America, English conventions, feminism, and his controversial list for the British Foreign Office.

2 editions

Review of 'Why Orwell matters' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

CH's erudition on Orwell is very impressive and the smoothness of his acerbity is frequently entertaining. He does answer the question, "Why does Orwell matter?" on the book's last page:
that it matters not what you think, but how you think; and that politics are relatively unimportant, while principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them.

Or, in my own abbreviated summary, Orwell lived an exposed mostly Leftist intellectual life, with occasional vacillations and, in retrospect, some misogyny and homophobia, but he tried to have an honest and rational approach to his convictions.

Hitchens spends some time running down Orwell's fiction, and ultimately I don't think the title's implied question is really answered since I think most of Orwell's readers would respond simply that the reason that he matters is that he wrote well about things that mattter, then and now. …