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George Orwell - Coming Up for Air

George Orwell - Coming Up for Air (1939) Unabridged
Recorded Books | ISBN 1556901143 | Narrator Patrick Tull (1988) | 6 Cassettes | 7Hrs 42Mins | MP3 64kbps | PDF & Doc | 210Mb

George Bowling, the hero of this comic novel, is a middle-aged insurance salesman who lives in an average English suburban row house with a wife and two children. One day, after winning some money from a bet, he goes back to the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. The pool, alas, is gone, the village has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of his holiday is an accidental bombing by the RAF.

Coming Up for Air is a novel by George Orwell, published before World War II and predicting that conflict. It is written in the first person, with George Bowling, the forty-five-year-old protagonist, telling the reader his life story.
The social and material changes experienced by Bowling since childhood make his past seem as distant as the biblical character Og, King of Bashan, whom he remembers from Sundays at church. A news-poster about the contemporary King Zog of Albania, along with 'some sound in the traffic or the smell of horse dung or something' triggers the connection in Bowling's mind and his subsequent 'trip down memory lane'. Orwell's writing tends to show a real relish for pessimism and squalor; nevertheless, Bowling expresses a nostalgic melancholy of some tenderness. The novel presents an absorbingly realistic evocation of what is now called 'a mid-life crisis'.
What is most notable is not so much that Orwell predicted the start of World War II, which was becoming expected, but that he foresaw the transformation of society which would succeed it. Indeed, just a few years after the publication of this book, pre-war England was almost as different as George Bowling's Edwardian childhood.
The themes of the book are nostalgia, the folly of trying to go back and recapture past glories and the easy way the dreams and aspirations of one's youth can be smothered by the humdrum routine of work, marriage and getting old. George Bowling is not a very sympathetic character — he is a fat, middle-aged insurance salesman who dislikes his wife and children and who would betray what few principles he has for a couple of pints or a good night out with a prostitute.
However, like many Orwell protagonists, his saving virtues are perceptiveness and candour, especially regarding himself.
Orwell wrote the novel while spending six months in Morocco.


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