Published Jan 2010
Gordon Comstock, poet manqué and author of Mice (which the Times Literary Supplement said showed ‘exceptional promise’) gives up a ‘good job’ in an advertising agency to become a part time bookshop assistant, thereby gaining the time to write. Despite some modest success with his poetry, he embarks on a long, deliberate slide into penury which results in a solitary, squalid existence. The symbol of everything he rebels against is the ugly aspidistra, which for him represents dull, lifeless respectability and submission to the tyranny of the ‘money-god’. Gordon’s voyage of self-discovery takes him to the depths of the abyss, to the dismay of his family and the ever-faithful Rosemary, whose offer of love and security challenges his commitment to his chosen way of life. With characteristic irony and perception, Orwell traces the disaffection with society and the desire to renounce contemporary values which he himself experienced.