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Publisher's 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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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

11 people found this helpful

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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
  • 06-11-22

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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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.

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Ideology is More Important than Facts

In our present climate where, to pick an example at random, opening Twitter to the free expression of all views is somehow controversial, there’s no need to draw any parallels to Orwell. Besides, Professor Shelden does a fine job of drawing them for us. As he says, ideology, whether in Barcelona, London, Washington, Moscow, Cupertino, the schools, the media, or the workplace, has become more important than facts.

Instead, I’ll mention the two places where our good professor falls a little short. First, all biographers run the risk of falling in love with their subject, and Professor Sheldon is not immune. Surely, one can praise Orwell without denigrating the other literary giants of his time (Eliot, Auden, Waugh). Also, he fails to close the ironic circle when discussing the all-too-famous Apple ad from 1984. Created to challenge the dominance of IBM (“Big Blue”/Big Brother), didn't it help establish the dominance of the company whose devices now threaten our privacy the most?

Of course, if I’m only calling out two blemishes in a 24-lecture course, that should give you some idea of how rewarding a listen this is. Professor Shelden is a fine presenter of his ideas, with a very listenable voice and delivery.

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Excellent and Fascinating!

Dr. Shelden does an amazing job teaching us about one of the most enlightening and prophetic authors of the last 100 years. I have listened to many superb Great Courses, this is the absolute best. Thank you, Dr. Shelden.

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  • Bo
  • 05-24-20

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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  • old pesky
  • 04-04-20

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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  • Jason
  • 10-06-20

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • HeyDon't.
  • 07-11-20

concise and informative

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Agnes
  • 05-09-22

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-13-21

brilliant

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

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  • Iain G.
  • 07-03-21

great overview

interesting, deeply informative, lacks criticisms of Orwell a little overly one sided maybe. great overall.

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  • martlayton
  • 11-14-20

Informative and engaging.

The lecturer’s knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject shone through each talk. Essential listening for anyone who wishes to explore Orwell the man, the writer, and his world.

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  • Cristina
  • 09-28-20

More than what I expected

There's heart and passion in this set of lectures. Professor Shelden is deep, competent and clear throughout the course.

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  • beverley foster
  • 09-28-20

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.

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  • NickAus
  • 01-10-21

outstanding

Very well structured, clearly based on very extensive personal research, sympathetic, well paced and very well delivered.