Rebecca Solnit Is Not Giving Up Hope

John Nichols in The Nation:

Rebecca Solnit, the great essayist of this time, gave us a fresh understanding of George Orwell with her brilliant 2021 book Orwell’s Roses (Viking). But as with all things Solnit, Orwell’s Roses is about a good deal more than its nominal subject: the flowers that the author of Animal Farm and 1984 planted in the garden of a rented cottage in the English village of Wallington. I spoke with Solnit about the need for bread and roses—especially in perilous times. —John Nichols

JN: Why Orwell? Why now?

RS: The book kind of ambushed me. Although I’d known the essay where he described planting those roses well, I’d never thought about what it meant that our great prophet of totalitarianism, the man famous for facing unpleasant facts, was planting roses. It let me talk about all these things that I wanted to talk about—essentially about the left, about how we lead our lives, about what it looks like to lead a sustainable life.

It was only after I met the rose bushes and started reading Orwell’s domestic diaries and letters that I realized that I, like most people, had a misapprehension of him as this grim, pessimistic figure, and that he took immense pleasure in a lot of everyday things, and that’s what kept him going.

More here.