Orwell would have been amused at the idea that his 100th birthday could trigger such a flood of Orwelliana (the Babu intends to throw his Orwell party in 2084). The Washington Post made the obvious comment: “Orwell has suffered the famous author’s ultimate fate: He is revered and invoked more than he is read.” Orwell as contemporary saint is an old idea, and as with all saints, his halo is in danger of being tarnished. Did he betray “crypto-communists and fellow travellers” shortly before he died? (The Babu likes the “tubercolosis makes you go crazy” defence, but thinks he should point out that Orwell upheld the politics of the Left as against its practitioners, and came out with the odd sweeping statement to the effect that all communists were spies.)

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