ABOUT ORWELLS ROSES
An exhilarating romp through Orwells life and times and also through the life and times of roses. Margaret Atwood
A captivating account of Orwell as gardener, lover, parent, and endlessly curious thinker. Claire Messud, Harpers
Nobody who reads it will ever think of Nineteen Eighty-Four in quite the same way.Vogue
A lush exploration of roses, pleasure, and politics, and a fresh take on George Orwell as an avid gardener whose political writing was grounded in his passion for the natural world
In the year 1936 a writer planted roses. So begins Rebecca Solnits new book, a reflection on George Orwells passionate gardening and the way that his involvement with plants, particularly flowers, and the natural world illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist, and the intertwined politics of nature and power.
Sparked by her unexpected encounter with the surviving roses he planted in 1936, Solnits account of this understudied aspect of Orwells life explores his writing and his actionsfrom going deep into the coal mines of England, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, critiquing Stalin when much of the international left still supported him (and then critiquing that left), to his analysis of the relationship between lies and authoritarianism. Through Solnits celebrated ability to draw unexpected connections, readers encounter the photographer Tina Modottis roses and her Stalinism, Stalins obsession with forcing lemons to grow in impossibly cold conditions, Orwells slave-owning ancestors in Jamaica, Jamaica Kincaids critique of colonialism and imperialism in the flower garden, and the brutal rose industry in Colombia that supplies the American market. The book draws to a close with a rereading of Nineteen Eighty-Four that completes her portrait of a more hopeful Orwell, as well as a reflection on pleasure, beauty, and joy as acts of resistance.