Dhe American author Rebecca Solnit is not optimistic about the world. Yes, a lot has improved, for women, for minorities. But there are also many things that are not: basic rights are missing, the environment is being destroyed, internet giants are becoming more and more powerful. On the other hand, she wrote and continues to write, first as a journalist, then as an essayist. Today she is a formative intellectual in the United States. She became famous in 2008 for a term she never used: “Mansplaining”. That’s what one blogger called what Solnit so aptly described in an essay (which later became a book) as common behavior among know-it-all men. Since then she has written many more books, about art, about nature, about America. She also likes to write about authors and artists who are outside the canon.
It was therefore surprising that she has now published a book about George Orwell. In any case, he is not exactly considered an optimist. However, Solnit finds that he is misunderstood. Her confrontation with him in “Orwell’s Roses” is a more confident look in her work. We meet in Soho, a part of London that resembles her home in San Francisco. The hotel in whose tea room we are sitting is named after the British essayist William Hazlitt, who, as Solnit immediately tells us, died in this house; a circumstance that terrifies her. Dead writers in a fun-loving neighborhood – we’re on the subject.