At present I’m just an orange that’s been trodden on by a very dirty boot.” “[The BBC’s] atmosphere is something halfway between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum, and all we are doing at present is useless, or slightly worse than useless.” “I have left the BBC after two wasted years in it.” Thus, in letters and diaries, George Orwell described his two years of broadcasting to India for the wartime BBC.
W. J. West, a British scholar, now argues that Orwell was wrong about the worth of his wartime experiences: that “the key to Orwell’s evolution from the slightly pedantic and unpolished author of prewar days lies in the two years he spent as a Talks Producer in the Indian Section of the BBC’s Eastern Service from August 1941 until November 1943.” In short, not wasted years at all. West unearthed the evidence for this in 1984 in the archives of the BBC—over sixty scripts and news commentaries prepared by Orwell. Under the title The Lost Writings, West has published sixteen of
them, along with a lengthy introduction, and two hundred-odd letters Orwell wrote to various contributors to his radio program.
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