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Coming up for Air af George Orwell

Coming up for Air (udgave 1950)

af George Orwell

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,138447,365 (3.73)76
En 45-årig engelsk forsikringsagent søger i 1938 tilbage til sit fødesteds idyl, men opdager at "fremskridtet" også er nået hertil.
Titel:Coming up for Air
Forfattere:George Orwell
Info:Harcourt, Brace and Company
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek, Favoritter
Nøgleord:history, orwell, british, testing keywords

Work Information

En mundfuld frisk luft af George Orwell


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» Se også 76 omtaler

Engelsk (41)  Fransk (2)  Ungarsk (1)  Alle sprog (44)
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Un nóstos immaginato come "boccata d'aria" che si infrange contro l'impossibilità di stabilire una connessione con un passato troppo lontano.
Libro del 1939 di Orwell, una vicenda "media" scritta negli anni a ridosso della seconda guerra mondiale, in cui l'angoscia del conflitto in arrivo è stemperata dalla costante ironia con cui la voce del protagonista si esprime.

"Una cosa alla quale ho detto addio" pensavo scendendo per la collina "è l'idea di rituffarmi nel passato. A che scopo cercar di rivedere lo scenario della propria infanzia? Non esiste più. E volere una boccata d'aria! Non ce n'è, di aria. L'immondezzaio nel quale siamo immersi raggiunge la stratosfera". Comunque, non me ne importava gran che. Dopotutto mi restavano ancora tre giorni. Mi potevo godere un po' di quiete e di silenzio, e l'avrei smessa di crucciarmi per quello che hanno fatto a Lower Binfield. Quanto all'idea di andare a pesca, sfumata, naturalmente. Pescare, bella pretesa! Alla mia età! Siamo giusti: Hilda aveva ragione". ( )
  d.v. | May 16, 2023 |
Very Good - testing Condition
  chaclynhunt | Apr 6, 2023 |
Coming Up for Air is a character-driven novel about the life of forty-five-year-old insurance salesman George Bowling. Bowling tells his story in first person, starting with his early memories of growing up in the English village of Lower Binfield, the son of a grain merchant. He remembers the wars in his life – the Boer War of his childhood and his service in the Great War. The story shows how life changed for the worse in the aftermath of those two wars. It also portrays life in England in the lead-up to WWII and the rise of totalitarianism. The book was published in 1939, and it is interesting to look back now knowing what actually happened.

George Bowling is a coarse low-key character and there is not much interaction among the characters. The plot is minimal. One of the highlights of the book is his return to Lower Binfield as an adult, and the realization that everything has changed: “One thing, I thought as I drove down the hill, I’m finished with this notion of getting back into the past. What’s the good of trying to revisit the scenes of your boyhood? They don’t exist. Coming up for air! But there isn’t any air. The dustbin that we’re in reaches up to the stratosphere.”

I found the message of powerlessness in the face of global events particularly relevant to today. I enjoyed the masterful writing style, but it is unevenly paced. At times I was drawn into the story and at other times I found my mind wandering. The ending is extremely odd. I have now read three of Orwell’s works. This book is realistic, and therefore, much different from his dystopian novels, 1984 and Animal Farm. I liked it but not as much as the other two. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
I disliked the character of George Bowling. I feel like this is a late work for George Orwell, and maybe he was losing his touch. This character is a total misogynist, and I suppose he has the life he deserves. A miserable marriage, two Rugrats, a crappy job selling insurance, and a mortgage on a crappy house in a crappy subdivision. The protagonist was also an ultra-creep growing up, working away at being cruel to animals. Ugh. Get a load of this misogynistic description of a woman who George had lived with when he was young, and as a middle-aged "Tubby" he runs into, in her shop, on a trip to his old home-town:

"It was the first time I'd seen her full face, and though I half expected what I saw, it gave me almost as big a shock as that first moment when I recognized her. I suppose when you look at the face of someone young, even of a child, you ought to be able to foresee what it'll look like when it's old. It's all a question of the shape of the bones. But if it had never occurred to me, when I was 20 and she was 22, to wonder what Elsie would look like at 47, it wouldn't have crossed my mind that she could ever look like THAT. The whole face had kind of sagged, as if it had somehow been drawn downwards. Do you know that type of middle-aged woman that has a face just like a bulldog? Great underhung jaw, mouth turned down at the corners, eyes sunken, with pouches underneath. Exactly like a bulldog."

( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
"… you could see the roofs of the houses stretching on and on, the little red roofs where the bombs are going to drop…" (pg. 19)

George Orwell's novel Coming Up for Air, published a few months before war broke out in 1939, is less a walk than a ramble down memory lane. Largely plotless, it follows a fretting middle-aged insurance salesman who fears the future and looks back on his past with a disjointed nostalgia. He has good reason for both – a catastrophic war is indeed coming, and the Old England of his youth is indeed being "sawn off at the roots" (pg. 166) – but Orwell's approach fails to excite the temper.

There are two significant features to the novel which account for its cloudiness. Firstly, the protagonist, George Bowling, is a dull, unremarkable man, and Orwell makes a glaring mistake in telling the story in the first-person. Orwell's authorial clarity and erudition strains against the decision to have the staid and confused middle-brow Bowling speak to the reader directly. Bowling bores us, and his pre-eminence over Orwell's own voice means that the insights into the coming war and the fading England lack the emphatic literary stamp they need.

The only way such unremarkable characters can ever engage a reader is when remarkable things happen to them. This doesn't happen in the plotless Coming Up for Air, which leads one to the second feature accounting for the novel's cloudy direction: it's just all too routine. The book outlines George's benign lower-middle-class life, musing all the way with its repressed commentary on career and family, war and politics, youth and the countryside. It ends, predictably, with George returning to his hometown, which he has idealised in memory, and finding it's all been paved over and developed: the town of his youth is gone, and now the memory of it is also tainted.

Coming Up for Air is never wrong, only unfocused. Orwell wrote the novel while recuperating from illness and, without meaning to sound too fanciful, some of that feverishness can be sensed by the reader. Orwell has a thesis we can all accept: the war will change things, and what will go are things that cannot be retrieved, and that the magic of our youth is something that was both real and also a dream. But the story never really makes a strong point, never really dissects the feelings of nostalgia. It never manages to make a drama out of its dual sense of wistfulness and impending doom, which besides was something that had already been done with great success by James Hilton a few years earlier, in Lost Horizon and Goodbye Mr Chips.

The closest Orwell gets to his own literary moment here is when he has Bowling recognise that what he fears is not the war itself – he's too old to be called up to fight – but "the after-war. The world we're going down into, the kind of hate-world, slogan-world" (pg. 157). These moments aren't seized upon by Orwell here, but they will be – in Orwell's hauntingly precise and emphatic post-war works Animal Farm and Nineteen-Eighty Four. Of course, Orwell in March 1939 wasn't to know that this was what he was trying to reach for in the haze of his present writing, but we do, and can forgive it easily. But their whispers here in this pre-war novel only show that Coming Up for Air lacks the acuity that is so much a hallmark of Orwell in his more well-known writing. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Sep 18, 2022 |
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En 45-årig engelsk forsikringsagent søger i 1938 tilbage til sit fødesteds idyl, men opdager at "fremskridtet" også er nået hertil.

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