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Coming up for Air | [George Orwell]

Coming up for Air

George Bowling, an insurance salesman, hits middle age and feels impelled to “come up for air” from his life of quiet desperation. With seventeen pounds he has won at a race, he steals a vacation from his wife and family and pays a visit to Lower Binfield, the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. But the pool is gone, Lower Binfield has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of Bowling’s holiday is an accidental bombing by the RAF.
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Publisher's Summary

George Bowling, an insurance salesman, hits middle age and feels impelled to “come up for air” from his life of quiet desperation. With seventeen pounds he has won at a race, he steals a vacation from his wife and family and pays a visit to Lower Binfield, the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. But the pool is gone, Lower Binfield has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of Bowling’s holiday is an accidental bombing by the RAF.

Bowling’s everyman life provides a sort of cavalcade of England from 1893 to 1938. Written when the clouds of World War II were already gathering, this story of Bowling’s journey into his own and his country’s past is told with humor, warmth, and nostalgia that will surprise and delight George Orwell’s many readers.

George Orwell (1903–1950), the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, was an English novelist, essayist, and critic. He was born in India and educated at Eton. After service with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he returned to Europe to earn his living by writing and became notable for his simplicity of style and his journalistic or documentary approach to fiction.

©1950 The Estate of the Late Sonia Brownell Orwell (P)1991 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“By any standards, a work of rare vigor and imagination…Confirms one’s estimate of Mr. Orwell as a major prophet among the world’s still lively minority of thinking men.” (NewYork Herald Tribune Book Review)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 07-10-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 07-10-12 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Orwell Flirts and Fishes w/ Nostalgia & Modernity."

    A novel that explores the pastoral life and experiences of youth in Edwardian England before the First World War as a memory of a man who is anxious about his own existence and pessimistic about his nation's inevitable progress towards another world war.

    I think John Wain was right when he said, "What makes _Coming Up For Air_ so peculiarly bitter to the taste is that, in addition to calling up the twin spectres of totalitarianism and workless poverty, it also declares the impossibility of 'retaining one's childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies' - because it postulates a world in which these things are simply not there any more."

    This is a pessimistic novel that deals with sevearl paired themes:
    - nostalgia for the past vs fear of the future
    - memory vs truth
    - memento mori vs inevitable change
    - the individual/internal vs the universal/external
    - liberty vs loss
    - poverty vs wealth

    As with Orwell's other work, 'Coming Up for Air' has some amazing prose and is definitely worth the effort. Brown does a great job reading this novel in a way that evokes both the pre-World War I and pre-World War II eras.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bernard Tallahassee, FL, United States 09-10-12
    Bernard Tallahassee, FL, United States 09-10-12
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    "ORWELL!! His best."
    Would you listen to Coming up for Air again? Why?

    again and again and again. This has been regarded by serious critics as Orwell's best work, and I agree.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    George


    What about Richard Brown’s performance did you like?

    His overall somewhat cynical tone and characterization fit the work perfectly.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    no

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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