Don’t you understand that one isn’t a full human being – that one doesn’t feel a human being – unless one’s got money in one’s pocket?
Orwell lays it on THICK in Keep the Aspidistra Flying employing a stubborn protagonist, Gordon Comstock, to wage his war on money and humanity’s dependence upon it.
However, while I find plenty of circumstances to which I can relate – or even principles to which I hoped to adhere in my own younger days – I find Gordon hypocritical and at times nearly unbearable. I absolutely LOVE George Orwell but I do not classify Aspidistra as a favorite.
The story arc begins with youthful naivety – a socialist declaration of war on capitalist society and its life blood. It then peaks with uncomfortable conflict between Gordon and his relationships; trying to marry his principled boycotts and ambition to live a normal life. We then find Gordon embracing his descent into the mud; wanting only to live a menial and destitute life without money at all. I will not divulge the resolution of this…comedy.
Ultimately, Gordon pits himself against an unwavering enemy which fosters an internal conflict – between rising and sinking, living outside of society on principle or within society on money, treating women fairly or selfishly wallowing in his choices. And yet he glorifies the penniless side only to find utter unhappiness. I imagine those who truly hate money would genuinely rejoice in their squalor rather than blame money for it. Perhaps Gordon only blames a lack of meaning in life to the presence of money.
Mile after mile of mean lonely houses, let off in flats and single rooms; not homes, not communities, just clusters of meaningless lives driving in a sort of drowsy chaos to the grave!