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George Orwell finds a home in France's prestigious Pléiade literary collection

Cover of George Orwell's 1984 seen at a book fair in Hong Kong. Several of the author's works are to be published in a collection known as La Pléiade
Cover of George Orwell's 1984 seen at a book fair in Hong Kong. Several of the author's works are to be published in a collection known as La Pléiade © AFP/Archives
3 min

The groundbreaking novel 1984 by British author George Orwell and some of his other works are to be included in a respected literary collection known as the Pléiade, a branch of the French publishing house Gallimard. 


Gallimard said that the special collection on British writer George Orwell would be unveiled on 8 October.

The Bibliothèque de la Pléiade is a collection of French and foreign classics and contemporary fiction and non-fiction works published in an updated, accessible format.

Created in 1931 by Jacques Schiffrin, it was bought by Gallimard in 1933.

Other English-language authors who will make an appeareance in the Pléiade are Charles Dickens and George Eliot, due for release in September.

The edition on Orwell will be overseen by a specialist of English literary translation, Philippe Jaworski, known for his translations of work by writers such as Philip Roth, Herman Melville, Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Jack London, also published in the Pléiade.

1984 translated multiple times

Jaworski, a professor in American literature at the Paris-Diderot University, translated Orwell's 1984.

Published in French in 1950, Orwell's novel of a dystopian future had been the subject of several updated translations, the most recent in 2018 by Josée Kamoun.

The Pléiade volume is to be put together with the help of translators Véronique Béghain, Marc Chénetier and Patrice Repusseau, who will write notes to accompany the works.

The novel Animal Farm (1945), is in the collection as are many of Orwell's non-fiction works such as his first non-fiction work Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

Pride of place for non-fiction works

The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), based on observations of poor areas in cities and working-class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences soldiering for the Republican faction of the Spanish Civil War, are to be included in the collection.

Born Eric Arthur Blair on 25 June, 1903, in Motihari, Bihar, British India, Orwell produced literary criticism, poetry, fiction and political journalism throughout his career.

As a young man, he spent time living in Paris and began writing novels, notably an early version of Burmese Days (1934), based on his experience in the Indian Imperial Police.

Social observation in Paris

He gained some success as a journalist and published articles in conservative daily Le Monde and a political/literary journal edited by Henri Barbusse.

His first article as a professional was La Censure en Angleterre (The Censorship in England), which was published on 6 October, 1928.

Orwell took on his pseudonym in 1932, shortly before the publication of Down and Out in Paris and London.

His work remains influential in popular culture and in political culture, and the adjective "Orwellian" - describing totalitarian and authoritarian social practices - is part of the English language.

The term 'big brother' - used in connection with mass surveillance tools - emanates from Orwell's 1984.

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