Orwell, The New Life by DJ Taylor: The great writer’s failings retrieved from the memory hole

George Orwell’s life is revisited in this nuanced biography which draws on new material – much of it unflattering

Inward-looking: George Orwell. Photo via Getty© ullstein bild via Getty Images

Carlo Gébler

DJ Taylor published Orwell: The Lifein 2003. Now he offers a new biography that draws upon new materials that have surfaced since (Orwell’s letters to women he was infatuated with, for instance). This new work is fluent, careful, nuanced and revealing. There’s nothing in it, however, either startling or overturning; this doesn’t dethrone Orwell. Rather, what we get from Taylor is what we already knew (Orwell was fallible, Orwell had faults) only at greater length and in greater depth than previously.