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The Road to Wigan Pier | [George Orwell]

The Road to Wigan Pier

A graphic and biting polemic that still holds a fierce political relevance and impact despite being written over half a century ago. First published in 1937 it charts George Orwell's observations of working-class life during the 1930s in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. His depictions of social injustice and rising unemployment, the dangerous working conditions in the mines amid general squalor and hunger also bring together many of the ideas explored in his later works and novels.
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Publisher's Summary

A graphic and biting polemic that still holds a fierce political relevance and impact despite being written over half a century ago. First published in 1937 it charts George Orwell's observations of working-class life during the 1930s in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. His depictions of social injustice and rising unemployment, the dangerous working conditions in the mines amid general squalor and hunger also bring together many of the ideas explored in his later works and novels.

©2012 Canongate Books (P)2012 George Orwell

What Members Say

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  •  
    M Wakefield, United Kingdom 15/10/2012
    M Wakefield, United Kingdom 15/10/2012 Member Since 2012

    I'm a singing songwriting postie living in Yorkshire. Sometimes I like to be challenged by a book, and sometimes I just want to lose myself.

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    "Road to Wigan Pier"

    I had a vague idea what this book was about - a middle class George Orwell goes 'Up North' to see how the working classes live - but I wasn't expecting it to be such a personally touching story. My family are from West Yorkshire and, as far back as we can go, we have been miners, living in the small mining communities that are described in The Road To Wigan Pier. Infact, my Grandad started down the pit in 1937 - as a 15 year old boy, the year this book was published - and the descriptions of the lives and homes of the mining families really hit home for me. The visceral account of how the miners would have to crawl through miles of dark and dusty tunnels before they even reached the coal face - and then do their 7 hours of difficult and dangerous graft before making the return trip - made my knees and back ache in sympathy for my young Grandad; no doubt it would have been my lot had I been born 50 years earlier.

    Orwell's writing is superb, and this first half of the book flew by, but I wasn't expecting the sudden shift into polemic that takes up the second half and I kinda lost the flow for a while, but it turned out to be a very interesting insight into that strange period - just before WWII - when Fascism, Socialism and Capitalism were fighting for dominance. And, interestingly, many of his arguments about what was wrong in society rang true for our own times: unemployment, housing shortages, the poor eating junk food, and the onslaught of crass media, cheap clothes and technological toys that distracted the masses from engaging in meaningful debate or action.

    So overall this was an extremely interesting read - if not an entertaining one - and I would thoroughly recommend it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ash Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom 14/03/2013
    Ash Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom 14/03/2013 Member Since 2008
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    "A great book, made better by a great reading."

    I've been listening to audiobooks for years now and can comfortably say that this is a real gem of a reading. Orwell's writing is compelling and the subject matter has a particular meaning for me since both of my grandfathers were miners in the era Orwell describes so the first half of the book is just brilliant.



    What really makes this shine is that Jeremy Northam really picks up and runs with Orwell's passion in not only the first part of the book but also the second part: a political essay which I suspect could seem dull and ranty in the hands of a lesser reader. It's so good I shall almost certainly listen to this audiobook again, something I this far have never felt the need to do.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Hitchin, United Kingdom 05/06/2012
    Stephen Hitchin, United Kingdom 05/06/2012 Member Since 2012
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    "Socialism Views Made Clear"

    "Our only hope is in the Prols". Orwell has this message whispered through this work. Again he experiences privation to gain true understanding of the society he is to write about. He speaks realistically about the working class; about what their immediate needs are and also what holds them back. This includes their own mind forged manacles. If the reader is looking for some light reading, keep looking. This is a serious and brilliant work by perhaps the greatest writer of the 20th century.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steph B in a caravan somewhere 13/09/2013
    Steph B in a caravan somewhere 13/09/2013 Member Since 2010

    I'm Steph. I live in Polegate, Sussex and listen to most of my audiobooks on the bus - makes commuting to work a pleasure!

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    "Life-changing book that's perfect for audio"

    Finished listening to an Audible download of Road To Wigan Pier today and it is a truly astounding book. I think, had I encountered it 80 years ago, it would have been life-changing. Plus there is still so much that is completely relevant now and it is interesting to see how much of Orwell's future prognosis has come to pass. I am sure that much of my enjoyment of the work was due to Jeremy's excellent and impassioned narration. The second part moves from social observation to political ideology and, had I been just reading, I possibly would have got lost and given up. However, having the audio made it feel as though the different ideas and perspectives were being explained just to me(!) and I now have a far better understanding of the politics of the time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nakul 27/10/2012
    Nakul 27/10/2012
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    "Indispensable"

    A classic of polemical journalism. Jeremy Northam captures Orwell's tone, both narrative and polemical, perfectly. I listened to it on a train ride from Glasgow to London and the time simply flew by.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Acapella Cornwall, UK 04/01/2014
    Mr. Acapella Cornwall, UK 04/01/2014 Member Since 2013

    17th Century Heretic

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    "Orwell at his best"
    Where does The Road to Wigan Pier rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Fascinating combination of personal experience, political comment and a masterful appeal to hope. One of the last of Orwells books which I have encountered personally. But one of the best.


    ps. Would be nice if Audible stopped treating its customers like idiots and let us write reviews that are free form. All these questions make reviews harder to read and less reliable as the format tends to obscure the priorities of the reviewer, which is critical in assessing their likely relevance.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anita 07/07/2014
    Anita 07/07/2014

    Annie

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    "Fact or Fiction?"
    Would you listen to The Road to Wigan Pier again? Why?

    I did listen twice straight off to ensure that I didn't miss anything. It was well worth a second listen. I often do this with Audible Books. If I don't, then I didn't enjoy the book all or there is too little content to be worth it. This is well worth another listen or read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoy social history, but that is not all that is in the book, so listen on!


    What does Jeremy Northam bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    This is a dry book. Jeremy Northam read it well.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is full of interesting information about the time when it was written. It was what was once called, dry. The way in which it was read encouraged me to continue.Well recommended, but not a light read. Persevere, though, it is well worth it. Go onto read/listen to other Orwell books. They are definitely not all in the same vein.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    martin Manchester, United Kingdom 21/01/2014
    martin Manchester, United Kingdom 21/01/2014 Member Since 2013
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    "A Modern Classic"
    What made the experience of listening to The Road to Wigan Pier the most enjoyable?

    Orwell's pose and descriptive detail drags you along without notice into the darkest deepest Lancashire pits. His venom and loathing of the class system makes comfortable reading in the year 2013. The genius of the man is obviously helped by the fact he is such a caring author as he reels and recoils in describing the hell of the 1930's living and working conditions. Orwell is without doubt a master of the English language his name is to be celebrated along with the likes of Shakespeare, Tennison, Twain and Wilde.


    Have you listened to any of Jeremy Northam’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Masterful performance by Jeremy Northam. Always a joy to listen to his reading.


    Any additional comments?

    Just listen and I guarantee you will be so glad you were not born earlier to a working class Northern family.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hittowl 07/04/2013
    Hittowl 07/04/2013 Listener Since 2010
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    "A book of two halves"

    This book is split is effectively split into two havles. The first half explains the life and hardships involved in working in the coal mines duing the early 1930s. The second half is more of a general discourse about poverty, going in to matters such as nutrition, average earnings etc. It is the first half that is the more interesting listen, and whilst the second half is of some interest it became quite hard work after a while.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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