Original autograph lecture notes for "Culture and Democracy", together with related correspondence between himself, the Fabian Society, and Routledge, the publishers.1941-42 Stock Code: 120664
NotesA remarkable survival, the original manuscript notes for Orwell's lecture on "Culture and Democracy", the lecture which was published, much to Orwell's disgust, with unauthorized alterations in the volume Victory or Vested Interest (1942). Orwell's lectures were not usually recordedBernard Crick describes the published version as "the only record of his lecturing manner"and this manuscript restores the original structure of the lecture as Orwell actually delivered it. Orwell habitually destroyed his manuscripts after publication, so examples of any kind are seldom encountered. The accompanying correspondence illuminates the unusual story behind the lecture and its publication.
On 14 July 1941, the Fabian Society invited Orwell to give one of their autumn series of lectures. In the typed letter signed of 2 August 1941, Orwell accepts the invitation and announces his subject. The next month the assistant secretary wrote to ask his agreement to the lecture being published by Routledge.
In the typed letter signed of 30 September, Orwell explains that, while he has no objection to the lecture being published, he will find it difficult to supply a script, "as I always speak from notes. I could write the lecture out and let you have a copy, but I find that if I do this it gives a sort of stiffness that I try to avoid in speaking. I wonder if it would be too much trouble to arrange for a reporter?"
A stenographer was duly hired to transcribe Orwell's lecture. The lecture was typed, Orwell tidied the stenographer's version to his satisfaction, and corrected proofs. He was slow in doing this, however, and the correspondence contains a frantic sequence of copy letters and draft telegrams from the Society over December 1941 and January 1942 urging Orwell to supply corrected proofs. Orwell claimed to have sent these direct to Routledge on 18 December, but the publishers had no record of receiving them, and so the Society asked him to correct a second set of proofs.
When the book was eventually published in 1942, containing five Fabian Society lectures from the previous autumn, Orwell was outraged to discover what had been printed in his name. He fired off two letters of complaint. The first, to Routledge, dated 23 July 1942, is present here in copy form, together with a copy of their letter to Gwynn Llewllyn Jones, the Fabian Society's newly-appointed organizing secretary, denying any responsibility for changing the text.
Orwell's second letter, to the Fabian Society, repeats the substance of his complaint to Routledge, but aims his venom more precisely at the Society: "I now find on looking through the lecture that you have made a series of alterations about which I was not consulted. I only found this out by chance, as you did not send me a copy of the book, although Messrs Routledge tell me that they gave you a copy to send on to me. I see that besides toning down several phrases I used you have gone all through my manuscript and altered every phrase which revealed I was delivering a spoken lecture into something implying that I was writing an essay. I would willingly have made such alterations myself if you had asked me, but as it stands the printed lecture gives a quite false impression of my written style and makes me use phrases which I should never dream of using. I must ask you to publish in the press some kind of statement explaining that this lecture has been tampered with; otherwise I shall be obliged to do so myself."
Even at the end of his life, preparing notes for his literary executors in 1949, Orwell remembered that this lecture "was substantially altered and deformed all the way through without my knowledge or consent".
The correspondence retained here hints at one possible reason for the changes. Someone at the Fabian Society, perhaps the outgoing H. D. Hughes, evidently lost patience with Orwell's phantom corrections and supplied Routledge with their own version, leaving his successor to soothe the author's wounded feelings.
On the top sheet, Orwell divides his lecture into four sections: i) Democracywhat it is; ii) Its chances of survival; iii) Culturewhat it is; iv) Its possible revival under democracy & extinction under fascism. The following 11 leaves expand on these four strands. Bernard Crick notes that, in its published form, "the lecture moved rather abruptly from a diatribe against the British upper classes and the capitalist system for being dependent on cheap colonial labour into a noble defence of literature against totalitarianism". The present manuscript gives the canonical version of Orwell's lecture and constitutes an essential counterpoint to the published version.
The autograph lecture notes on 12 leaves of octavo-sized paper, written on rectos only; 849 words, written in blue ink, with occasional deletions, the top sheet in black hand, all in Orwell's hand (rust marks from paperclip). Together with 12 related letters: 3 typed letters signed from Orwell to the Fabian Society, a copy letter from Orwell to Routledge; carbons of 6 letters and 2 telegrams from the Fabian Society to Orwell, and a typed letter signed from Routledge to the Fabian Society. Housed in a green quarter morocco solander box with chemise by the Chelsea Bindery.
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