George Orwell is a writer who has been appropriated by very different political regimes and opinions, pressed into service as his various critics have seen fit. Though a polemicist and satirist at heart, his anti-totalitarian ideals are expounded with deft story-telling and a simplicity that belies the ultimately complex debates to which he gave voice. The changing responses to his two classic novels, Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), provide an illuminating account of the developing preoccupations of the second half of the 20th century. In this Readers' Guide, Daniel Lea takes a decisive path through the maze of interpretations that has accumulated around Orwell's best-known novels, examining critical reactions from the beginning of the Cold War through to the collapse of Communist Eastern Europe, and at the same time placing Orwell within a long tradition of dystopian writings. In exploringthe artistic, cultural and social contexts of Orwell's work, it is an essential resource for students and general readers alike.