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Unfailingly elegant and endlessly relevant, the four essays in this collection treat literature as a vital record of our political hypocrisies, our social failings, and the ennobling limits of our ideological aspirations. Delving into the literary canon, George Orwell encounters dusty classics and lesser-known works of literature on his own exhilarating terms. The novels of Henry Miller lead him inside the belly of Jonah’s whale, an imagined refuge in a time of total war. A trenchant investigation of Charles Dickens unfolds into a poignant portrait of nineteenth-century liberalism. A minor pamphlet on Shakespeare by Tolstoy provokes a stirring evocation of humanism and the excessive vitality of life. A series of singularly thrilling reading experiences, they celebrate Orwell’s engagement with the world of writers and literature.