Orwell foretelling the future??

Published: August 13, 2005
Updated: August 13, 2005

I’ve nearly finished reading “Homage to Catalonia”, Orwell’s description of his time spent in Spain during the civil war in the 1930’s when he was fighting with the POUM militia against Franco’s fascists. The final paragraph of the last chapter before the appendices is amazing given the recent sad events in England where terrorist bombs have caused so much damage and suffering.

I realise that these recent happenings are not nearly as much as the English had to endure during the second world war of course, an event which followed not long after the events in this book. However, it was more recent events that came to mind when I read this paragraph a few minutes ago in which Orwell is describing his return to England after he and his wife were forced to flee Spain or risk being thrown into a Spanish prison or perhaps even face a firing squad…

And then England—southern England, probably the sleekest landscape in the world. It is difficult when you pass that way, especially when you are peacefully recovering from sea-sickness with the plush cushions of a boat-train carriage under your bum, to believe that anything is really happening anywhere. Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don’t worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. The industrial towns were far away, a smudge of smoke and misery hidden by the curve of the earth’s surface. Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen—all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.


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