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Orwell and the shooting stick: sex, sadism and biography

Orwell was not ashamed of his affection for the vulgar seaside postcards of Donald McGill and he made them the subject of one of his most interesting essays. This essay is a defence – almost a celebration – both of cultural ‘lowness’ and of what Orwell describes as ‘the outstanding, all-important feature of comic post cards – their obscenity’. Strangely, however, Michael Shelden’s discussion of the essay in his biography makes no mention either of sex or obscenity . . .

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