George Orwell

[Polemic - Cover page]

By Daniel J. Leab:

Polemic, ‘a Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics’, during its short life (1945-47, 8 issues) published some of Orwell's best essays. ‘The Prevention of Literature’ is both a spirited attack on the ‘distortion in writing’ caused by the ‘poisonous impact on “English intellectual life” by Communist and fellow travelling apologists for Soviet actions and a strong defense of freedom of expression’. Swingler, a minor English Communist poet in his mid-30s, attacked Orwell for writing this article ‘through a fog of vagueness and through a hailstorm of private hates’, equating Orwell (and Koestler) with the anti-Soviet ‘HEARST PRESS’. Polemic's editors allowed Orwell to respond to Swingler in sidebars almost as long as the article. Orwell demolished Swingler's arguments. In ‘Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool’ Orwell dredges up and dismisses a long forgotten Tolstoy pamphlet in which the Russian author judged Shakespeare as ‘not even an average author’. Orwell used Tolstoy's pamphlet to condemn those who would practice coercion in support of their beliefs, no matter how principled or noble these might be. Both Polemic essays have been anthologized in various Orwell collections.


1. The Prevention of Literature
Polemic. No. 2. January, 1946. pp. 4-13.
2. Second Thoughts on James Burnham
Polemic. Summer (May?), 1946.
3. Randall Swingler: ‘The Right to Free Expression’ (annotated by George Orwell).
Polemic. No. 5. October 1946. pp. 5-21.
4. Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool
Polemic. No. 7. March, 1947. pp. 2-17.

Visit ‘The Daniel J. Leab Collection Of Books And Manuscripts By And About George Orwell:’
URL [wrapped; too long]:

This magazine: “Polemic”
were first time published on January 2, 1946.

[Cover page]

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