A book to be avoided at all costs if you like Orwell and want to keep thinking he was such a consistently good writer and storyteller On the other hand, if you hated 1984 in school and are looking for ammunition against him, this book is it Plus point the book is very short.
Ritual is stronger than faith If you want to know the secret of religion s success in secular countries where people tend to lose their childhood beliefs over the course of their education, read this minor Orwell novel to see the psychological reasoning behind life dedicated church after becoming a convinced atheist Social security and familiar rituals are the most cherished features in life for dependent individuals A Clergyman s Daughter remains in her profession , even if she knows it has nothing to do with supernatural truth or moral superiority After all, what else can she do Bitter and cynical
A Clergyman s Daughter, George Orwell s second novel, is the story of Dorothy Hare, the uncomplaining daughter of a selfish, demanding rector She lives a simple life visiting parishioners and tending to her father s needs until she inexplicably wakes up one day on the London streets with no idea who she is or how she got there, and without a penny to her name.
This rather contrived plot serves as a framework for a series of essay like episodes laced with Orwell s characteristic biting social criticism The episodes themselves are compelling, from the tedium and pointlessness of a small town clergyman s daughter s routine, dodging the village gossips, to hop picking in Kent with itinerant workers, to teaching in a horrible fourth rate private school under the mercenary Mrs Creevy, a headmistress who never read a book right through in her life, and was proud of it There is also a remarkable scene, written as dramatic dialogue, of Dorothy spending the night out in Trafalgar Square with a group of tramps This event is a sort of fugue, like a scene from a Broadway musical, with each character presenting his or her situation in parallel The characters Dorothy, a defrocked clergyman, a woman kicked out of the house by her husband, and several others endure a cold, miserable, hungry night while a policeman repeatedly comes by to remind them to go home if they want to sleep.
Orwell often appropriates his non fiction and autobiographical experiences for his novels In Keep the Aspidistra Flying, for example, Gordon s drunken jail scene comes almost verbatim from the autobiographical essay, The Clink, which also provides material for A Clergyman s Daughter Most of the significant episodes in Clergyman can be found in Orwell s non fiction, such as his hop picking diary and his experiences in Down and Out in Paris and London The school scenes presage the essay Such, Such Were the Joys Here, as in the essay, the primary motive of the school is financial Dorothy is instructed only to punish the children whose parents aren t good payers because in private schools the parents word is law Such schools exist, like shops, by flattering their customers, and if a parent wanted his child taught nothing but cat s cradle and the cuneiform alphabet, the teacher would have to agree rather than lose a pupil Orwell s difficulties with girls, as Christopher Hitchens called them, are apparent here, and perhaps it is his unease with working with his only female protagonist that weakens this novel Dorothy is a farsympathetic character than John Flory or Gordon Comstock, but she lacks dimension Bad and good things seem to happen to her without her exerting much influence on the world around her Flory, Gordon, and Winston Smith all attempt to influence their worlds Dorothy is merely reactive Dorothy suffers unwelcome advances from the good natured but lecherous Mr Warburton just prior to her mental break His behavior is fairly repulsive, sneaking up behind Dorothy, while telling her he considerately chose this approach so she would be spared his unattractiveness Warburton has no qualms about his actions and isn t at all bothered by Dorothy s distress Apparently this scene between Warburton and Dorothy was to have been an attempted rape, but had to be changed due to concerns about obscenity That certainly explains the general creepiness of the scene, which otherwise seems out of proportion to Warburton s actions One of the major structural flaws in this novel is Dorothy s amnesia, which seems to come out of nowhere Reaction to the psychological trauma of an attempted rape would have made thatbelievable.
After this unpleasant episode, Orwell as narrator gives a snarky aside, essentially about the frigidity of educated women, that is unfair to Dorothy and out of place with what is otherwise a sympathetic portrayal Hopefully this remark was written after the rape scene was changed, because otherwise it would have been a really nasty thing to say This comment seems to reflectOrwell s issues with women, which are well documented, than Dorothy s failings The novel does, however, give a detailed presentation of the extremely limited options for a woman in Dorothy s social situation She has no good options other than acting as a servant for her selfish father When she passed up marriage prior to the events of the novel, she seemingly doomed herself to an extremely dreary future When Dorothy is on the street she has an evendifficult time than men in the same situation As a single woman she can t even rent a room because of landladies suspicious of prostitutes While we as the readers see these problems, Dorothy herself doesn t seem to have a lot of thoughts about them It wouldn t be fair to say that Orwell doesn t get women s issues he seems to get the issues intellectually, but falls short at incorporating them into his protagonist s temperament A Clergyman s Daughter is the weakest of Orwell s novels He wasn t proud of it, admitting that he published it because he needed the money It would hardly be considered essential 20th century literature, but it is interesting to see how Orwell works with ideas that appear repeatedly in his essays and other books experiences with education, religion, and the indigent, as well as interesting thoughts on the loss of religious faith There are many good elements here, with excellent writing in some scenes The story, however, is subjugated to the social commentary, preventing this work from being a cohesive novel.
It is a mysterious thing, the loss of faith as mysterious as faith itselfGeorge Orwell, A Clergyman s DaughterBottom shelf Orwell, but still pretty good I m not sure I enjoyed the ending, but I m glad Orwell left a small caveat and let this book be printed after his death, if only to benefit his heirs.
A Note on the Text A Clergyman s Daughter Intimidated By Her Father, The Rector Of Knype Hill, Dorothy Performs Her Submissive Roles Of Dutiful Daughter And Bullied Housekeeper Her Thoughts Are Taken Up With The Costumes She Is Making For The Church School Play, By The Hopelessness Of Preaching To The Poor And By Debts She Cannot Pay In S Depression England Suddenly Her Routine Shatters And Dorothy Finds Herself Down And Out In London She Is Wearing Silk Stockings, Has Money In Her Pocket And Cannot Remember Her Name Orwell Leads Us Through A Landscape Of Unemployment, Poverty And Hunger, Where Dorothy S Faith Is Challenged By A Social Reality That Changes Her Life Okay, this is truly bizarre I don t know what Orwell was thinking, or trying to do in those mid sections Aside from that, it had all the elements you d expect from his writing, with a tonne of social commentary Kind of brilliant, kind of a failure As always, essential reading.
full review below reading in progress, but i have a couple of minutes for a few ideas i ll develop later on in the review i love this i really love this main character, a believable woman, Dorothy, she s smart, but the smartness is triggered through her liberation from her former life the narrative has a few glitches like, what happened with her memory i have 50pages to go, maybe i ll find out the use of the adjective subhuman reffering to an 11 year old girl s glance to the world is brilliant and perfectly integrated in the phrase human typologies, human typologies everywhere a teacher named Strong who failed me likey the use of language Orwell can write, and write GOOD, other things than political brochures and dystopian worlds of doom and pain it s sad that this had to be censored, would ve loved to read the original version of thisi ll finish it soon and come back with a full review final reviewi must confess i have this weird habbit, ever since i was about 8 or 9 years old, to read out loud the scenes of a book that i really like, and to do the same thing to the last like 30 pages of it it slows my reaing down by a lot, and it allows me to fully process what i m reading, so i enjoy doing this if i m at home, i read it like it should be, with characters and an objective tale teller voice, and when i m at school or in the bus i mumble it under my breath, so no one calls any law department there are books of which i don t read like this any page, at all, and there are works that i almost fully read out loud, because of how many lines are really good and impress me out of A Clergyman s daughter, i read about 70 pages total out loud that is a lot, even for me it means i had a blast reading this which i did the woman character of this book, Dorothy, the clergyman s daughter, is a 28 year old virgin, and her life revolves around the church and caring for her father and old people it s a bidimensional life, nothing happens that would change the original order, and she is content with it misfortune follows her, and they are poor, the beginning of the book finding her struggle to obtainmoney so that they have something to eat she is constantly under stress and finds no time for herself, so her entire existance hangs by other people s presence throughout the book, she goes trough three major phases first, she is presented as this still young, naive girl, who has no preparation for the real world and lives in her bubble, a small country village, where everyone knows everything about everyone the moment that changes is the first change of her statute she abruptly loses her memory and wakes up eight days later with no notion whatsoever about who she was or what she used to do she finds herself in the company of thieves and beggars so, forced by her hunger, she becomes one too after working on a plantation for a while, she is woken up to reality after she gets a shock when her man friend is arrested for theft she remembers who she was, and what she had done, but she still has eight days missing from her memory after desperately trying to reach out to her father, she moves to London, where after a week of fruitless job hunting, she spends 10 days as a beggar in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by low life and pain the climax comes when she gets into jail, and is bailed out by chance, she receives help from a relative and becomes a teacher at a small, unregistered school where the head mistress only cares for money in the third and final phase, she is abruptly dismissed from the school and saved by an old acquaintance, and then comes what i thought was the most brilliant part of this work the lecture he gives her and her return to her old habbits and life, as a clergyman s daughter, in her home village for people that like thrillery stories, this won t impress you but for the ones who like to watch and understand the development of the character through certain events, it is a fascinating story i have so many things to say about this i don t even know where to start from beginning to end, one of the main questions Dorothy comes with is if faith in God is good she begins as a believer, but not an ardent follower after she experiences hurt, hunger, pain, loss, detachment, she loses that faith, but still chooses to fake it, and go back to her mechanical, bidimensional life, because she thinks it s better to pretend you believe than to not believe and maybe make others not believe too she thinks faith saves human beings, but it ironically didn t save her any kind of philosophy she has doesn t seem to apply to her her returning to the old life resembles a giving up moment for most of us, but she really believes, in her heart, that going back to what dumbed her is correct and righteous and the best option she has at one point, near the end, the book becomes a sort of an essay on life and death, the meaning of both, the role faith plays in someone s life and how easy it is not to live, to truly live And in every detail of your life, if no ultimate purpose redeemed it, there was a quality of greyness, of desolation, that could never be described, but which you could feel like a physical pang at your heart Life, if the grave really ends it, is monstrous and dreadful No use trying to argue it away Think of life as it really is, think of the details of life and then think that there is no meaning in it, no purpose, no goal except the grave Surely only fools or self deceivers, or those whose lives are exceptionally fortunate, can face that thought without flinching these kind of moments i find beautiful written, and i was absolutely stunned at how much depth Orwell can reach this is my first Orwell book who had no tags on it, like the two ones everyone knows, Animal Farm and 1984 I read those and i found them amazing, especialli 1984, but this reaches a whole new level in the end, i want to talk about the thing that really made me propel this book from 4 stars to 5 stars while being a teacher, Dorothy gives lessons to a class of 22 girls, the older being 15, and finds them completely empty of knowledge, with no thinking done for themselves she manages to change the system, for a brief period of time, and sparks their interest at certain objects after she reads the word womb in Shakespeare s Macbeth out loud to the class, some of them go home and ask their parents what that is revolted, they come to the school and almost get her fired because she dared to teach their children such a thing she is forced to go back to the old ways she goes back to feeding them prepacked information in a manner that allows no understanding, no critical thinking, no analysis, no processing, just swallowing and shitting it out in a verbal diarrhea that, let s face it, any child is capable of it made me think of my education and how lucky i am to have been given a kick in the ass and a smack over my head and a single task think for yourself annalyze, question, compare, combat, connect, recreate it s these notions that have almost zero value in today s education and i say this is one of the saddest things that we have to deal with by all means the girl s minds become a void again, and there is a sentence that goes like she learned the sad art of being a teacher i m translating now, i read it in romanian Also, she learned to protect her mind and become ruthless, she learned to feel proud that an absurd, useless system is paying off i read that and thought about my teachers, all throughout the 12 years of school i had most of them i hated because, on some unconscious level, i saw them hating me not me personally, but rather what i represented a generation of proud idiots, tomorrow s proud idiot leaders and then i thought about my good teachers, the people that have shaped me, as much as they could in the little span of time they had the people that i will always remember as that teacher , women and men who by the power of example showed me how to achieve higher standards i thought about them, and how they get up every day and deal with the swamp we call school and the invertebrates we call students, how they put up with the bovine looks and stupidity and lack of respect from 90% of the kids, just for the chance to plant a seed in some better kid mind s soil and i hope, i really hope, i have never ever given any of my good teachers a subhuman look or reason to despair over how useless it is to plow so many minds and gain no harvest at all i feel like i ve written enough for this review, but i don t feel like i emptied the well of things to say about it it s a beautiful book and if you re open enough, it will make you think and the one thing that unites good books all over the world is that they make you think.