Written in a Europe on the verge of war, this book reveals itself as dauntingly realistic: an accurate portrait of what it was like to be alive in such tension-filled times. “Coming Up For Air” is its title, but it could also serve as the accurate description of the act of reading it. George Orwell delivers a story that doesn’t allow you to breath. That is, it does not give the reader an opportunity to digest all the intricate meanings he purports. However, its theme is easy to discern. The approach of an ominous threat which civilization can do nothing about.
George Bowling, 45, is one of those helpless creatures who also wait for the inevitable: war. As a result, Bowling becomes restless about the future. He forebodes evil approaching. That is why a need to narrate an account of his early life arises.
That life as a young boy, a life before the First World War is a time filled with innocence. Bowling permeates it with nostalgia.
Even though Bowling’s life is fiction, it all feels absurdly realistic. Yet the reason for this deceiving authenticity may reside in the author himself. It is known that Orwell – the author- was about the same age as Bowling – his character – when he wrote the novel. Not only is Orwell’s childhood and first name imprinted in Bowling, but his political views are imprinted in it too. They both despise the Bolsheviks. Both men hate ideologies and mindless propaganda.
Another important aspect about the book’s nature are it’s overwhelming accounts of humanity. Orwell was a journalist which makes people the center of attention in his novels. It becomes evident throughout his works – and this one is no exception – the literary quality contained within his writings.
“Coming Up for Air” may not be qualified to achieve the notoriety that “1984” achieved, yet it is as pertinent and meaningful as the latter.