Peter Buitenhuis and Ira B. Nadel, editors George Orwell: A Reassessment.
St. Martin’s Press, 206 pages, $30

Parodists lead tough lives. Reality keeps catching up with them. Consider George Orwell: A Reassessment, a new collection of essays from St. Martin’s Press in which are enshrined “the reactions of political scientists, literary critics, social historians and novelists to the Orwell oeuvre” Had this compendium been decently edited and marketed as a spoof, it would have been every bit as funny as The Pooh Perplex, Frederick Crews’s lethally precise send-up of scholarly literary fashions circa 1963.

The comedy begins with the cast of characters. The papers reprinted in George Orwell: A Reassessment were all delivered at a 1984 colloquium held in Vancouver, British Columbia, and with the sole exception of Bernard Crick, Orwell’s biographer,...

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