In October 1940, George Orwell sat down to write a furious call to arms. The Lion and the Unicorn opened with one of the most arresting sentences in the history of the English essay: “As I write, highly civilised human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.”
I re-read the radical pamphlet on holiday last week and found it as angry and striking today as it was when Orwell’s molten words flowed more than 80 years ago. It’s not that he was necessarily right about the future in the way that his later novel Nineteen Eighty-Four can read like prophecy. But his skewering of that moment of history still has a raw, unflinching power.