Saturday, August 02, 2008

Book Review: The Same Man: George Orwell & Evelyn Waugh in Love and War.

If Evelyn Waugh might be described as a social alpinist, clambering up one aristocratic pinnacle after another, George Orwell, his exact contemporary — both were born in 1903 — was a spelunker, burrowing ever deeper into the seamiest depths. Waugh loved the high life and made it his domain.

Orwell may not have loved the low life, but he valiantly tried to live it. While Waugh was chatting up dukes and duchesses, Orwell was rubbing shoulders with coal miners and tramps. Like a gourmet who sniffs out the most pungent cheeses, he had a nose for the sleazy side of life. Wormwood was to him what Champagne was to Waugh. Both men were, in their way, imposters, but they were imposters with a twist: The deliberate ambiguities of their lives sharpened their appetite for the truth.

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