Original Autograph Manuscript: 'Culture and Democracy'

With an archive of correspondence relating to the delivery and publication of the lecture.

ORWELL, George


ORWELL, George Original Autograph Manuscript: 'Culture and Democracy' With an archive of correspondence relating to the delivery and publication of the lecture.


THE MANUSCRIPT: Twelve pages of octavo sized paper, written on rectos only. 849 words, written in blue ink in Orwell's hand, comprising Orwell's expanded notes for his lecture in four sections, with occasional deletions. Cover page written in black ink in Orwell's hand. WITH: Twelve letters relating to the lecture and its subsequent publication, comprising; three letters, typed and signed, from Orwell to the Fabian Society and a further copy of a letter from Orwell to George Routledge; carbons of six letters and two telegrams from the Fabian Society to Orwell, and a typed letter signed from Routledge to the Fabian Society. The correspondence deals serially with Orwell's invitation and acceptance to deliver a lecture, agreement and arrangements for its subsequent publication and Orwell's annoyance on finding it had been published with unauthorised alterations. Slight rust staining from a sometime removed paperclip.

Orwell was invited to give a lecture to the Fabian Society titled 'Culture and Democracy', one in a programme of lectures that the Society gave in October and November of 1942.
Orwell's approach to speaking was to make a series of detailed notes upon which he could expand in speech so that the entire lecture lasted approximately an hour. In his letter shortly before giving the lecture agreeing to having the contents of the lecture published, he states,
"it is rather difficult for me to furnish you with a script, as I always speak from notes. I could write the lecture out and let you have a copy, but I find that if I do this it gives a sort of stiffness that I try to avoid in speaking." (letter to the Fabian Society, 30 Sept 1941)
As a result his notes are a dense series of concepts or statements. He begins by defining democracy for the purposes of the lecture before going onto what he describes as "it's chances of survival", which is based on the tenet that democracy cannot survive in its present form. Notes include,
"Our democracy based on cheap coloured labour [sic] Parasitic structure + consumer mentality."
"Caricature of capitalist democracy: wealthy idlers at the top, a parasitic intelligentsia earning their keep of pretending to abuse the people who pay them, + the workers permanently on strike for means to buy refrigerators, electric cookers, silk stocking etc"
This takes up the majority of the lecture before moving on to defining culture and discussing "it's possible revival under democracy & existing under fascism." As his biographer, Bernard Crick, put it, "the lecture moved rather abruptly from a diatribe against the British upper classes and the capitalist system for being dependent on cheap colonial labour into a noble defence of literature against totalitarianism."
The notes are clearly written quickly, with the handwriting difficult to read and riddled with abbreviations and spelling errors.
The lecture was published in 1942 by Routledge in 'Victory or Vested Interest', a collection of the five Fabian Society lectures given that Autumn.
On reading the published version Orwell discovered changes had been made to the corrected proofs he submitted to Routledge. Writing to the publishers on 23rd July 1942 (Routledge's copy included here) he said, "I now find that you have been through it and made the most unwarrantable alterations about which I was not even consulted." Then, turning his ire to the Fabian Society, he wrote in a letter on 27th July 1942 (original included here), "I see that besides toning down several phrases I have used you have gone all through my manuscript and altered every phrase which revealed that I was delivering a spoken lecture... as it stands the printed lecture gives a quite false impression of my written style and makes me use phrases which I should never dream of using".
Routledge, in turn forwarded Orwell's letter to the Fabian Society, with a covering letter attempting to absolve them of any responsibility (both included here).
In 1949, when Orwell was preparing notes for his literary executors he wrote "this was substantially altered and deformed all the way through without my knowledge or consent", and for this reason, Peter Davison suggests, "he did not wish it to be reprinted".
Orwell's lectures were not generally recorded, Bernard Crick describing this one's publication as, "the only record of his lecturing manner", despite the known inaccuracies. This manuscript not only demonstrates the creative process behind Orwell's lecturing, but also shows the lecture in its purest form. Furthermore, Orwell habitually destroyed his manuscripts after publication, so examples are very seldom encountered.

Fenwick B.17

Stock ID: 36688


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