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But what chance does he have in a nightmare of social control so complete that it does not just suppress free speech, it suppresses free thought?
In the end, what is most chilling about the social control in Winston’s world is its objective. The people in 1984 work feverishly against one another to maintain the status quo, which is ‘a boot stamping on a human face - for ever’.
Thus, Rob Colls’s intellectual portrait George Orwell: English Rebel joins an already substantial body of commentary—his introduction lists some twenty predecessors, who themselves are only a sub-set of the much larger corpus of writing devoted to the man, the works and their afterlife.
 Where he differs from these is in his particular interest in Englishness, which has been his speciality as a historian over the past thirty-odd years.
That too has been a busy field, and the result is a book of conspicuous learning, more than a quarter of its length given over to the scholarly apparatus.
It is also, within its simple chronological scheme, a digressive book, here taking off to explore some aspect of a general situation, there pausing over some circumstance or consideration, as if wanting to find room for everything. while avoiding an easy, evasive plural or the deceptive calm of English Identity: national character is a singular not a plural, yet indeterminate and changeful.) Colls’s understanding of Orwell is of a piece with this. There is no “key” to Orwell’, he writes in his Introduction, ‘any more than he is a “box” to open.’ But then, in a parting sentence whose placing and manner are worth noting for later consideration: ‘His Englishness, though, is worth following through.’ This is the optic through which Colls reviews the familiar course of Orwell’s life: private schooling and service in the Imperial Indian Police (1922–28); the rejection of Empire and return to England with the aim of becoming a writer; living hand to mouth in Paris, hop-picking and tramping in the South of England, a self-styled Tory anarchist discovers the poor (1928–31); the early novels and the decisive encounter with the North of England working class (1932–36); a socialist fighting in Spain, fighting at home, against fascism, Stalinism and war (1937–39); the herald of revolutionary patriotism (1940–43); the fabulist of political betrayal (1943–50).
This way of putting it risks understating the sheer scale of Orwell’s celebrity, the worldwide currency and talismanic power of his name since his death in 1950, at the age of 46.
Identity of England (2002) finds its form by negation of the more obvious and fluent phrasings to hand in the book itself. Colls relays these themes in a kindred spirit, as contemptuous as Orwell if not so inventively abusive in his treatment of abstractions, systems, ‘set-squares and equations’, dogmas asserted in disregard of personal experience and what is ‘reasonably assumed to be the case’—everything that is suggested to him by the word ‘ideology’.
Armed with ubiquitous surveillance and tools to indoctrinate the populace from the cradle, the Party seems to control everything.
But they do not control Winston’s thoughts, and secretly he begins to rebel.
Coming Up for Air is a novel by George Orwell, first published in June 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.
It combines premonitions of the impending war with images of an idyllic Thames-side Edwardian era childhood.
These small gestures of self-expression—thoughtcrimes, his world calls them - are addictive, and Winston desperately searches for any hint that organised rebellion against the Party is possible.