Burying Bakunin

Homage to Catalonia achieved the double-whammy of focusing attention on the Stalinist terror that followed the 1937 coup while whitewashing the merciless anarchist repression here in 1936. With the heroic optimism that often accompanies foreign jaunts, Orwell seems to have approved wholeheartedly–although never in public, my dears!–of the slaughter or exile of the Catalan clergy and upper middle classes. What may have been fit for Johnny Foreigner was, however, not to be applied back home. Here’s part of an essay by Malcolm Muggeridge, A Knight of the Woeful Countenance:

It turned out that Orwell had left in his will that he wanted a church funeral and to be buried in a country churchyard. [Anthony] Powell and I had the task of arranging the service. First, we went to an undertaker in Warren Street, and he said he would deal with all that side of things. Then we visited the rector of a nearby Regency church. He had, it was clear, never heard of Orwell, but we were able to persuade him that he was a writer of distinction. When he heard the name of the undertaker he noticeably cheered up; the two of them, he said, were in close touch. We imagined them ringing one another up – ‘Anything doing today?’ The service went off without a hitch, though it was obvious that a good many of those present were unfamiliar with Anglican liturgy. The thing that held my attention all the time was the enormous length of the coffin. It seemed they had difficulty in procuring one long enough. Arranging for his burial was more difficult. In the end the problem was solved by invoking the help of the Astor influence to find a place for him in a country churchyard. It somehow recalled Bakunin’s death in Geneva, where in the public cemetery, along with other data, the profession of the deceased has to be indicated. As being an anarchist is not a profession, the only thing they could put in Bakunin’s case was: ‘Bakunin – Rentier’. (In Miriam Gross (ed), The World of George Orwell (1971))

I’ve forgotten who it was that said that experiments should be conducted with Lego, not people.

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Last updated 04/02/2004

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Catalonia (1155):

English literature (60):

George Orwell (21): Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, whose work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism.

Kaleboel (4307):

Natural history (512): Natural history is the research and study of organisms including animals, fungi and plants in their environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study.

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