orwellian times

Flipping through a collection of Orwell’s novels I notice that all but one opens with a reference to the time of day. And two begin in April.  I’ve never studied him… perhaps this is common knowledge and I’m among the last to be amazed.

Burmese Days (1934)

“U Po Kyin, Sub-divisional Magistrate of Kyaukfad, in Upper Burma, was sitting in his veranda. It was only half past eight, but the month was April, and there was a closeness in the air, a threat of long, stifling midday hours.”

A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935)

“As the alarm clock on the chest of drawers exploded like a horrid little bomb of bell metal, Dorothy, wrenched from the depths of some complex, troubling dream, awoke with a start and lay on her back looking into the darkness in extreme exhaustion.”

Keep the Apidistra Flying (1936)

“The clock struck half past two.”

Coming up for Air (1939)

“The idea really came to me the day I got my false teeth. I remember the morning well. At about a quarter to eight I’d nipped out of bed and got into the bathroom just in time to shut the kids out. It wa a beastly January morning with a dirty yellowish-grey sky.”

Nineteen Eighty Four (1949)

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

The one that doesn’t begin with ‘time’ is  Animal Farm  (1945), which begins instead with a pie-eyed farmer.

“Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes.”

Hmmm… better look out, Farmer Jones… could be your time has come.