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Summary

George Orwell was more than just a writer. He was a political and social sage who valued, above all else, individual freedom. His works aren’t just entertainment - they’re cautionary tales and red flags of warning. And if we ever hope to understand threats to freedom and how to stop them, we must learn from them. 

In these 24 lectures, learn how the man born as Eric Blair forged himself into a writer of international importance and renown. Mixing historical inquiry, literary analysis, and cultural biography, Professor Shelden gets at the truth of British life in the opening decades of the 20th century. These lectures cover the creation, reception, and implication of Orwell’s major works, from Burmese Days and Homage to Catalonia to Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Embark on a chronological journey through Orwell’s life and times, from his youth in Edwardian England to his formative experiences at boarding school (captured in the brilliant essay, “Such, Such Were the Joys”) to his being shot through the neck by a sniper while serving as a freedom fighter against the forces of General Franco. Along the way, examine the experiences - and the people - Orwell drew upon when forging himself into a writer and a citizen of the world. 

Here, in one comprehensive package, is a compendium of all Orwell’s many personas: the writer brave enough to speak truth to power, the soldier willing to sacrifice his life for others, the citizen willing to expose the injustices, and the sage for freedom-loving civilizations everywhere. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons

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  • Bo
  • 24-05-20

excellent

loved it, truly informative, excellent presentation. I think I will listen to it all again soon. informative and moving

5 people found this helpful

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Timeless

A terrific journey through the life of perhaps the most important author of the twentieth century. Another hit for The Great Courses.

3 people found this helpful

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Compelled to leave a review!

This lecture is masterfully crafted. Not knowing much about George Orwell this Great Courses lecture has given me so much insight and understanding into the life of Orwell. I’ve subsequently read animal farm and have started the road to Wigan pier. Both of which I would not of been able to appreciate half as much. This is the perfect gate way into Orwellian literature, I’m my opinion to understand George Orwell you first must know Eric Arthur Blair.

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Terrible

Michael Sheldon’s lectures are very poor. He is so disparaging of George Orwell’s father and talks as if he knows them personally. He makes sweeping statements about the British education system and priggish comparisons with the great way America can be so much better with their easy “upwardly mobile “ ways.

Laughable as a serious educational course.

1 person found this helpful

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Well worth the time

This course was both interesting and well told. I doubted whether or not Orwell would justify twenty four episodes. He did. And his story makes for very good listening. Michael Shelden has spoken to a lot of people who knew Orwell, and he has uncovered some new and important information.
He eloquently makes the case for Orwell’s importance and relevance for a modern listener.
However. Michael Shelden is not an impartial observer of Orwell’s life; he is an advocate for his subject. It seemed to me that on every occasion and in very event he took Orwell’s part. There is little doubt that, in Michael Shelden’s view Orwell was good, honest and upstanding. All the time, in every event?

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concise and informative

This series was great. A terrific overview of Orwell. I have listened to these lectures more than once.

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Excellent lecture series

This is a must listen for any student of Eric Blair, nee, George Orwell. Even as a fan of his work this was a brilliant listen and added new insight into the man and his genius.

The lecturer was extremely knowledgeable and is clearly passionate about his subject and it’s always a pleasure to listen to someone talk about a subject matter they clearly love.

I thoroughly recommend this especially as it was free for Audible members.

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insightful Orwell bio yet American English

he wrote from challenging experiences. interesting anecdotes add to the research yet American pronunciation spoils the delivery

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Absolutely brilliant

I was already a George Orwell fan but now I’m seeing his work in a whole new light. A brilliant lecture series, easy to follow, and full of interesting insights.

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brilliant

this was an inspiration. George Orwell was the most inspirational man. thank you 😊

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  • Mike miller
  • 18-03-20

A breath of fresh air to a book weary soul

I love this book I am 3/4 of the way through it is captivating well-read and a well-thought-out very personable to the average working man like myself very much enjoyed it thank you

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  • steve
  • 05-03-20

Excellent!

This Great Courses was as great as all the others I have purchased. You will love the narration because he cares so much about Orwell...ie Eric Blair. But this course, you won’t regret it

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lynne
  • 02-04-20

A Man of His Time and All Time

This is an superb account of the life of Eric Blair and the works of George Orwell. Through the author's extensive research, I learned much about the life of Eric Blair that I did not know. He greatly improved my understanding of the ideas of Orwell. This course prompted me to read or reread many of Orwell's essays and reviews. Orwell's unique individualism, nostalgia, idealism, and insight shine through in every chapter. A great Great Course.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua Schadenfruede
  • 08-07-20

Outstanding.

Michael Shelden’s A Sage for All Seasons was not the dry college lecture series I had expected, Erich Blair the man and George Orwell the struggling author came alive in these lively, easy to listen to presentations. Shelden gives historical context to Orwell’s body of work. I had recently listened to a collection of Orwell’s essays and this lecture series is a perfect compliment to many of those writings. I recommend any fan of Orwell give this lecture series a listen.

4 people found this helpful

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  • E. Jackson
  • 13-09-20

Exceptional Lecture

This lecture is an exceptional review of Orwell's legacy. Everybody, especially those who would limit speech for their own political and social reasons should listen to this lecture and then read Orwell's writings...all of them! I had no idea he was so prolific and thoughtful.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joselo
  • 30-07-22

A man with a vision

George Orwell is one of the most influential British authors of the 20th Century. Born Eric Blair, he wrote a number of classics under his now familiar pen name, including '1984' and ‘Animal Farm'. He also led an interesting life that took him as far as Burma, where he worked in his youth as an Imperial police officer. I picked this audiobook, mainly because I wanted to learn more about his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, which inspired his critically acclaimed ‘Homage to Catalonia’. But this was just the tip of the iceberg… Profesor Shelden has meticulously researched the author and interviewed many of the people that he was closest to. One can sense in the emotion in his voice his appreciation of the writer, both as a person and as the brilliant visionary who so well described the perils of oppressive political power. An uncompromising idealist at heart, rather than follow his father’s footsteps, Eric Blair gave up the security and comfort of a government position in order to become George Orwell. His alias allowed him to remove himself from his past and his family, and pursue adventure. Perhaps because he was so completely committed to the world of ideas and the betterment of society, his life was often painful in a more intimate level. He did get married and adopted a son, but tragedy soon followed. It is all covered here and it moved me deeply. A Great Course, indeed!

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  • Roderick Molasar
  • 18-07-22

Richard Blair is still alive in 2022.

He is the adopted son of Eric Arthur Blair. He was only 5 when Eric died. He was 39 when 1984 hit the theatres. Same age as Winston Smith.

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  • DonnaMarie113
  • 16-06-22

Great Delivery of an Intriguing Story

The narrator was superb in his delivery which made it a consistently enjoyable listen.
Extremely interesting journey through the life of Eric Blair and career of George Orwell. It was ironic the way he came up with the title of his most popular book and a tragedy that he married Sonia Brownell right before he died. (What a horrible woman, especially for his son's sake.) Plus, this Great Course ended with a very powerful last lecture. I highly recommend it.

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  • RJ
  • 11-06-22

Thorough and Thought-provoking 1994 is Now

I was mainly interested in George Orwell because of 1984. Too bad his health was such a challenge. He probably could have written a lot more. Great biography on an interesting author of the 20th century.

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  • John Galt
  • 06-05-22

Excellent

I really enjoyed this course. It is well written and taught me several things about Blair/Orwell. Professor Shelden did a great job in presenting the material.