A Clergyman’s Daughter by George Orwell

Most of us are familiar with Animal Farm and 1984; this story of a clergyman’s daughter living in 1930’s England is far more grim and depressing than any of Orwell’s totalitarian dystopias. Orwell the freethinker sees the Christian life as nothing but unrelieved hypocrisy, cant, and flummery, a way of making you feel like you are a good person as long as you are making yourself miserable. Perhaps the Anglican Church in prewar England was indeed a discouraging spectacle; certainly the manners and mores of most English people in that period seem to have been less than life-embracing. The characters in this novel are mostly shabby and small; even the better ones are hardly heroic, but I cannot believe that the English were ever such an utterly mean and joyless people as Orwell makes them out to be, and in his scant regard for the established church he misses the spirit of true Christianity. In some ways this was an informative description of English society, but it was not a good story.

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