Friday, 26 June 2015

Adelaide University's version of The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Lit. Supp., and the poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comrade X, author of Marxism for Infants — all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel..
(from the ebook version of The Road to Wigan Pier put out by Adelaide University, Australia)

There’s a word missing there from this oft quoted passage and that word is nancy. Not the nancy Archbishop, or the nancy comrade but the Nancy poets. He is referring to Auden and Isherwood, grouped together with MacNeice and Day-Lewis; all of them Oxford chums only the first two being genuine ‘homasegsshuals’ in that languid Oxbridge pronounciation. They (Auden and Isherwood) took off to America in 1939 in a move which the likes of Orwell an ex-policeman who took a bullet in the Spanish War could only regard as 'windy’.

Adelaide University has offered us an expurgated version of the ‘Road’. It might be amusing to construct a la Orwell an account of why.

I have been wondering why a sort of Jobsworth of limited imagination considers it to be meritorious to meddle in the manner of mediaeval heresy sniffing. The colonial and the post-colonial mentality is one of eternally looking over one’s shoulder and aping what their present or former masters are at. It’s a symptom what that Tory, Hilaire Belloc, wrote: Always keep a hold of nurse/for fear of finding something worse. They are keen to show they are up to the minute on orthodoxy. Pull out a word and push the rest of the sentence up and it’s as though it never existed. In future departments of government may dedicate themselves to this task. Must take a note of that to use elsewhere.

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