SVSU professor illustrates collection about George Orwell

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Professor of art and multimedia communications Mike Mosher met with readers and signed copies of a recently released book that prominently features his artwork on Saturday, Oct. 14, in the Barnes & Noble on Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw Township.

The book, “George Orwell Illustrated,” includes original illustrations by Mosher on each page. Mosher’s illustrations accompany the writing of David Smith, a sociology professor at Kansas University and author of several publications who has studied Orwell for years.

The two collaborated previously on the book “Orwell for Beginners,” released in 1984, which is included in its entirety in
“George Orwell Illustrated.”

“George Orwell Illustrated” was published by Chicago-based Haymarket Books in July.

The book moves beyond Orwell’s well-known classic novels, “1984” and “Animal Farm,” and delves into Orwell’s personal politics, life history and literary insights.

Mosher said he holds those novels in high regard but encourages readers to explore the lesser-known works of Orwell’s extensive catalogue.

“I think Orwell’s essays, ‘Politics and the English Language’ for one, and journalistic books like ‘Road to Wigan Pier,’ ‘Homage to Catalonia’ and ‘Down & Out in Paris & London,’ are at least as important as ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm,’” Mosher said.

The second part of the book includes fresh biographical research.

It also has previously unpublished material, including a human rights manifesto written by Orwell, philosopher Bertrand Russel and journalist Arthur Koestler.

“In 2015, Smith and I thought we could very quickly complete an updated version by giving it some context in the era of online surveillance, fake news and endless wars,” Mosher said, “As we were working on it, Smith discovered some unpublished research, so the project ended up taking us three years.”

Mosher hopes people will read “George Orwell Illustrated” and come away with an understanding of how relevant Orwell’s writings and values are to modern political issues.

Interpretations of current events could be informed by Orwell’s lesser-known writings and personal history, Mosher said.

“I find that with almost any political event, you can go back and find in Orwell’s (writings) something that is relevant,” Mosher said. “He wrote in the 1920s about Britain’s involvement in a war in Iraq, and so 15 years ago, 10 years ago, I looked back at his writing, and it was always right on the money, surprisingly germane.”

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