Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell
Money was on the mind this episode as we took it back to one of Curtis’s favourite books by one of his favourite writers. (He has a tattoo dedicated to Orwell.)
We talked about Keep the Aspidistra Flying, a novel set in the 1930s that follows miserable writer Gordon Comstock as he tries to live outside of the ‘money world’.
This is particularly pertinent to our current moment as we find ourselves in a recession. Hajar’s lost all her singing work and Curtis knows just how lucky he is to have a secure job.
Will Curtis like the book on second reading as much as he did the first time round?
How much do you sympathise with the protagonist or do you think he should just get over himself and get on with it?
We hope you’ll read along and join us as we talk about Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
Originally published in 1936, before Orwell achieved fame, Keep the Aspidistra Flying takes Money as its theme. Gordon Comstock gives up a good job in an advertising agency to become a part-time bookshop assistant at a meagre wage, thereby gaining leisure for writing. However, after some modest success in the world of letters he eventually slides into the abyss, to be rescued by the faithful Rosemary.
Ironically, Gordon’s voyage of discovery leads him back to commercial security, marriage, and the unexpected pleasures of domesticity. But above all he learns of the courage of keeping up appearances despite hardships. The symbol of this is the potted aspidistra: the ugly, stubborn, organic emblem of social and biological survival.
This new edition restores most of the material censored on first publication due to fears of action for libel, defamation and obscenity. Of particular interest are the previously suppressed advertising slogans of the 1930s and, in light of the censorship he experienced, Orwell’s ironic choice of surname for Gordon: Comstock.
Read the book, listen to the podcast, and tell us what you think.