Roses, pleasure and politics: a fresh take on Orwell as an avid gardener, whose political writing was grounded in his passion for the natural world.
‘I loved this book… An exhilarating romp through Orwell’s life and times’ Margaret Atwood
‘Expansive and thought-provoking’ Independent
Outside my work the thing I care most about is gardening – George Orwell
Inspired by her encounter with the surviving roses that Orwell is said to have planted in his cottage in Hertfordshire, Rebecca Solnit explores how his involvement with plants, particularly flowers, illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist, and the intertwined politics of nature and power.
Following his journey from the coal mines of England to taking up arms in the Spanish Civil War; from his prescient critique of Stalin to his analysis of the relationship between lies and authoritarianism, Solnit finds a more hopeful Orwell, whose love of nature pulses through his work and actions. And in her dialogue with the author, she makes fascinating forays into colonial legacies in the flower garden, discovers photographer Tina Modotti’s roses, reveals Stalin’s obsession with growing lemons in impossibly cold conditions, and exposes the brutal rose industry in Colombia.
A fresh reading of a towering figure of the 20th century which finds solace and solutions for the political and environmental challenges we face today, Orwell’s Roses is a remarkable reflection on pleasure, beauty, and joy as acts of resistance.
‘Luminous… It is efflorescent, a study that seeds and blooms, propagates thoughts, and tends to historical associations’ New Statesman
‘A genuinely extraordinary mind, whose curiosity, intelligence and willingness to learn seem unbounded’ Irish Times