To Remain Human: George Orwell On Henry Miller's T

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To Remain Human: George Orwell on Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer There is a skill that all literary critics ought to possess - a skill of “seeing the bigger picture”. In his essay Inside the Whale, which functions as a review of Henry Miller's The Tropic of Cancer, George Orwell demonstrates his mastery of this ability by using Miller's book as a tool to make a broader statement. His main thesis appears several times, most clearly in the third part of the text, where he claims “... there is no question that Miller himself is inside the whale,”[1] (a reference to the biblical story of Jonah, who was swallowed by a big fish and accepted his fate without attempting to change it). Yet the way he goes about proving his point is what makes this essay exceptional – he first puts Miller's work into the overall historical context and only when the reader understands it, he tells the verdict. Ingeniously, the journey that the reader experiences begins and ends at the same spot - Miller's acceptance of the world. In the first part Orwell focuses on a curiosity of Miller's book. He tries to uncover whether a publication that refuses to take a political stand in a world moving rapidly towards World War II, can actually be a “good” book. After comparing it with several other authors with similar style (e.g. Whitman, Joyce), Orwell finds its main quality in the way it focuses on an ordinary human being. He states: “... the whole atmosphere is deeply familiar, because you have all the while the feeling that these things are happening to you.” By refusing to take part in any political struggle and by “accepting” the reality, Miller is able to appeal to an “ordinary man”. Orwell however adds: “It will be seen that this is something (…) out of fashion,” and goes on with closer historical analysis in the second part to prove his point. This analysis takes the reader from

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