George Orwell – The Road to Wigan Pier (13/52 books challenge)

The Road to Wigan Pier

I think there is no reason to explain why I chose this book. I mean, it’s Orwell. 1984 is the number 1 reason. Animal Farm is the number 2 reason. I don’t need more.

This is actually not a novel, but a recalling of life of workers, especially miners, and the unemployed. He writes about their every-day work, their dilapidated homes, their wages and many more. Orwell is the best of telling about hardships of hard-working people of lower class. Here he does it in a reporting tone and he is very detailed. The first part is the recounting of the lives of many underpaid workers, the other is sort of essey about the government and social injustice.

I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as 1984 or Animal Farm, but as usually with Orwell, it was very well written. It’s also very informative. It’s a position that’s worth reading, especially when you’re not one of the minors or other physical workers.

There were some things that struck me more than others. First was that a miner does such a great deal of hard, physical work, and yet he’s forgotten, or treated as worse – especially by intellectuals. Intellectuals tend to think they’re better than them – or than everybody – while in reality everybody depends on miners’ work. So, to a larger extent, their job is much more important.

The other thing was when Orwell was describing working picking up hop, he asked one of the other workers why they don’t start a trade union. The answer was “they wouldn’t let us,” but nobody could answer who “they” were exactly. I think this doesn’t need explanation. I like the saying “Ignorance is bliss,” but I know in most cases ignorance is actually our disadvantage. I don’t want to write about how people being kept in the dark results in them being used.

At the same time, I know it’s not an issue of starting a trade union, and I know many changes would require co-operation of people who are too tired and too ignorant to co-operate. Not to mention “them” at the top. Let me just say it’s a complicated issue that got stuck in my head.

Overall, though it’s sometimes tedious and different than other Orwell’s works, it’s worth the read. Even though written in a tone that seems emotionless sometimes, it’s very sad and very emotional. I needed something light after that.


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