Existentialism, Orwell, Capitalism, English Literature


Orwell wrote in the same 1930s Europe as existentialist philosophers: most notably, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. We know, through his critique of Sartre’s “Portrait of an Antisemite” (Coombes 12), that Orwell was active in these circles, well enough to critically evaluate absurdist theories. As such, it’s long overdue to discuss how the concept of existentialism may have shaped Orwell’s beliefs, specifically in two of his contemporary novels, The Clergyman’s Daughter and Keep the Aspidistra Flying. The purpose of this paper is to argue that existentialism, specifically the ideas of bad faith and absurdism, played a pivotal role for Orwell in how his characters interacted with a capitalist society.

Issue and Volume

Volume 14 Issue 1