Despite the diversity of their subject matter, Orwell’s Tribune columns form a single coherent body of work. In the words of the critic D. J. Taylor in his recent Orwell biography: “One of the most engaging features of the column, read sequentially, is the sense of dialogue, points taken up, conceded or refuted, continuity rather than a trail of pronouncements which the reader could take or leave as he or she chose.”
The columns are also still remarkably relevant. If there is a single theme that runs all the way through them, it is that the left needs a more nuanced conception of politics. And this emphasis on the things the left habitually ignored — books, sport, popular racism, the sensationalism of the popular press, the slipperiness of political language, religious intolerance — rather than the programmatic core of 1940s democratic socialism or the week-by-week flow of events, makes Orwell’s Tribune columns more accessible than anything written by his contemporaries.
Paul also recently talked about his book on the Little Atoms show which you can download here.