Rowing in the Vortex: the Endurance of George Orwell

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The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association

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Eric Blair/George Orwell spent the last years of his life in the late ‘40s on the Hebridean island of Jura, just off the west coast of mainland Scotland. He lived in a small stone cottage, a hermitage if ever there was one, where he could continue to write and explore the natural world of the islands. It was a geography of great importance and sustenance to him. The tide waters of the Hebrides are a complex maze, known well to the locals who have fished them for centuries. By all accounts, they are difficult waters to navigate, and George Orwell was not a local. The Strait of Corryvreckan, to the north of Jura, and bounded by the island of Scarba, is home to an infamous whirlpool. There is an incident about Orwell, recounted in his diaries (Diaries by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison 2012) and recollected by his nephew, (Orwell Remembered, edited by Audrey Coppard 1984) where after a morning of fishing in the Strait with his son, nephew, and niece, in a small rowing boat with an unsecured motor, he misjudged the tide, and was swept into the vortex.

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Intellectual Freedom Blog

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