Madsen Pirie, at the Adam Smith Institute, has a piece on George Orwell, his writing and his impact.
He is still highly relevant, rewarding us not only with his fluent prose, but with his honesty. He self-identified as a socialist and a man of the Left, yet he saw and wrote about what people actually did in the name of socialism. His refusal to excuse the cynical brutality of those who claimed to carry its banner but betrayed all of its ideals, made him many enemies on the Left.
Some people “never read fiction”. Life, it seems, is too short for its frivolity when there remain Great Books to be read.
Yet, well-written fiction has the power to bring emotion and experience to life, accelerating (vicariously) the individual experience. And, as psychologists know, a deeply imagined experience has the same effect as one directly experienced. Hence, the power of visualisation in sport (and life) coaching.
This week, I finished Donald Robertson’s new book How To Think Like a Roman Emperor. And, what a remarkable book it is.
It succeeds in being a practical introduction to Stoicism whilst combining biography, history, psychotherapy and philosophy. Each chapter uses a period in Marcus’s life to illustrate an issue, for example, conquering desire or relinquishing fear. It describes Marcus’s situation, then demonstrates Stoic exercises that deal with the topic in question.
I had the Ladybird Book of the Soldier when I was little, but lately, the little hardback books have enjoyed a resurgence. First came satire (The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis, anyone?) but now proper, grown-up topics.