Orwell's roses

by Solnit, Rebecca,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 6 Libraries 6 of 9 copies
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Bethel Park Public Library Biography 92 ORWELL George
Location  Bethel Park Public Library
Collection  Biography
Call Number  92 ORWELL George
Mt. Lebanon Public Library Non-Fiction 828.912 Sol
Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  828.912 Sol
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 828.912 SO4
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  828.912 SO4
Oakmont Carnegie Library Non-Fiction 828.91 SOL
Location  Oakmont Carnegie Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  828.91 SOL
Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 828.912 SOL 2021
Location  Sewickley Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  828.912 SOL 2021
Upper St. Clair Township Library Non-fiction 823 ORWELL BIO/CRIT
Location  Upper St. Clair Township Library
Collection  Non-fiction
Call Number  823 ORWELL BIO/CRIT
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CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction CHECKED OUT
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
CLP - Squirrel Hill Non-Fiction Collection CHECKED OUT
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Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
Finalist for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

"An exhilarating romp through Orwell's life and times and also through the life and times of roses." --Margaret Atwood

"A captivating account of Orwell as gardener, lover, parent, and endlessly curious thinker." --Claire Messud, Harper's

"Nobody who reads it will ever think of Nineteen Eighty-Four in quite the same way." -- Vogue

A lush exploration of politics, roses, and pleasure, and a fresh take on George Orwell as an avid gardener whose political writing was grounded by his passion for the natural world

"In the spring of 1936, a writer planted roses." So be-gins Rebecca Solnit's new book, a reflection on George Orwell's passionate gardening and the way that his involvement with plants, particularly flowers, illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist, and on the intertwined politics of nature and power.

Sparked by her unexpected encounter with the roses he reportedly planted in 1936, Solnit's account of this overlooked aspect of Orwell's life journeys through his writing and his actions--from going deep into the coal mines of England, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, critiquing Stalin when much of the international left still supported him (and then critiquing that left) to his analysis of the relationship between lies and authoritarianism.

Through Solnit's celebrated ability to draw unexpected connections, readers are drawn onward from Orwell's own work as a writer and gardener to encounter photographer Tina Modotti's roses and her politics, agriculture and illusion in the USSR of his time with forcing lemons to grow in impossibly cold conditions, Orwell's slave-owning ancestors in Jamaica, Jamaica Kincaid's examination of colonialism and imperialism in the flower garden, and the brutal rose industry in Colombia that supplies the American market. The book draws to a close with a rereading of Nineteen Eighty-Four that completes Solnit's portrait of a more hopeful Orwell, as well as offering a meditation on pleasure, beauty, and joy as acts of resistance.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "George Orwell's essays helped light Solnit's (Recollections of My Nonexistence, 2020) way as a narrative nonfiction writer of conscience and cued her to his little-recognized passion for trees and gardening. Her pilgrimage to Orwell's cottage, where, in 1936, he planted fruit trees and roses, is one of many in a "series of forays" she chronicles and reflects on in this avidly researched, richly elucidating book of biographical revelations and evocative discoveries. Solnit delves into the natural history of the rose, its symbolism, and its current industrialized and cruelly exploitative cultivation. Noting how often Orwell's novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four is cited for its invaluable insights into the grave dangers of disinformation and revisionist history, Solnit traces the evolution of Orwell's astute perception of the consequences of economic and political tyranny. She also illuminates his prescient call-out of the planetary calamity of coal. As she tracks the ways imperialism has shaped horticulture, she dissects Stalin's obsession with lemon trees and ruthless suppression of science, a painfully relevant theme during the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate-change crisis. Orwell will always be relied on for his astute understanding of the threat of totalitarianism and its malignant lies; Solnit also ensures that we'll value Orwell's profound understanding of how love, pleasure, and awe for nature can be powerful forms of resistance."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Solnit carefully charts the life of George Orwell (1903--1950) by focusing on his love of roses and all things natural in this brilliant survey (after Recollections of My Nonexistence). Her study of the "sublimely gifted essayist" and novelist is not a biography, she notes, rather "a series of forays from one starting point, that gesture whereby one writer planted several roses." After reading an essay in which Orwell expounds upon the power of trees, Solnit begins to see his writing differently, spotting more "enjoyment" in his work. She follows Orwell's "episodic" life from his birth in northern India to coal mines in England, to Spain, and through his marriages, but begins with and returns often to his midlife in Wallington, England, where he rented a cottage in 1936 and planted his roses. She also traces her own interests that mirror his, such as climate, class, and politics--Orwell wrote "about toads and spring but also about principles and values and arguing with an orthodoxy." A disquisition on the suffragists' song "Bread and Roses" and a look at the rose trade in Bogotá happen along the way, but Solnit never loses sight of Orwell and his relationship to nature: "Outside my work the thing I care most about is gardening," he wrote. Fans of Marta MacDowell's biographies of gardening writers will appreciate this lyrical exploration. (Oct.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Orwell, George, -- 1903-1950.
Orwell, George, -- 1903-1950 -- Homes and haunts.
Authors, English -- 20th century -- Biography.
Orwell, George, -- 1903-1950 -- Knowledge -- Gardening.
Orwell, George, -- 1903-1950 -- Knowledge -- Political and social views.
Publisher [New York City] :Viking,2021
Language English
Description 308 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 273-294) and index.
ISBN 9780593083369
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