Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Orwell's DOMESTIC diaries

The Orwell Prize website has cleared up the mystery it created when teasing readers with a story about an Orwell diary blog. According to tidbits given to national newspapers, it intended to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the start of Orwell’s diaries. But Orwell certainly wrote a diary over 72 years ago, The Road to Wigan Pier Diary, in 1936 - see yesterday’s blog. In fact, it turns out, the website is celebrating the 70th anniversary of what it calls Orwell’s ‘domestic diaries’.

Here is the site’s announcement: ‘ ‘When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page’, wrote George Orwell, in his 1939 essay on Charles Dickens. From 9th August 2008, you will be able to gather your own impression of Orwell’s face from reading his most strongly individual piece of writing: his diaries. The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.’

In The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, the authors note that Orwell wrote two diaries covering the periods 28 May 1940 to 28 August 1941 and 14 March 1942 to 15 November 1942. The Orwell Prize website is clearly including these two in its blog, but, given the 9 August 1938 start to these ‘domestic diaries’, there must be others, dating from between The Road to Wigan Pier Diary and the so-called war-time diaries.

No comments: