Art and Reality: A Comparative Study of George Orwell and Albert Camus on their Literary Criticism

By Miho Takashima.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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George Orwell and Albert Camus, the two distinguished European writers who lived the age of great turmoil with two World Wars, I believe, were both acutely concerned with the essential values of human life. They were equally men of strong commitment whose love of nature, praise of individuality and fraternity, whose immersion with the here and now, pragmatic common sense and above all, whose ceaseless interrogation about both themselves and others sustained by their faith in traditional moral values, had enabled them to retain their sense of equilibrium, to adjust their own views and positions or to correct their mistakes as they thought it necessary – in their life-long struggles against totalitarian “plagues” through the tumultuous moments of their time. Orwell regarded language almost as the only catalyst by which he could express his own emotions and thoughts, through which he could reach for the “other” people and world. For Camus on the other hand, language was not the only instrument of self-expression: it was something which could create a dialogue between the incompatibles, thereby making their mutual understanding and reconciliation possible. In this paper, therefore, I would like to explore both the similar and contrasting features in the views of Orwell and Camus seen in their literary criticism where one is able to see the writers’ thoughts more clearly than in the novels. Their major literary essays can be divided largely into two categories (classical and contemporary writers, for instance), which also indicate specific fields of their interests illuminating simultaneously the corresponding aspects of their views of art and politics. I shall conclude by arguing in defence of the values and significance of political commitment and the role of the artist-intellectual of today.

Keywords: George Orwell, Albert Camus, Comparative Study, Literary Criticism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.215-226. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 630.355KB).

Dr. Miho Takashima

Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Meisei University, Hino-shi, Tokyo, Japan

Dr. Miho Takashima graduated from Sophia University, Tokyo, worked for Banque Nationale de Paris, Tokyo Branch, after which she went to England to pursue M.A. and Ph.D courses on cros-cultural studies at Essex University. Her Ph.D thesis was on a comparative study of George Orwell and Albert Camus. She returned to Japan after having been conferred a doctoral degree, and has been teaching comparative literature and culture at Meisei University, Tokyo since April 2003.

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