Before the war! How long shall we go on saying that, I wonder? How long before the answer will be 'Which war?'The approach of the Second World War finds suburban insurance agent George Bowling in a reflective mood. As he thinks back to the sedate Oxfordshire village of his Edwardian boyhood, he contemplates regretfully what has happened to England since then, from the First World War, in which he served, to the seemingly inescapable money-grubbing and mechanization of everyday life in modern London. A lucky windfall allows Bowling to make a secret return to his idyllic birthplace: a fortifyingrespite, he hopes, from the struggles of life in a modern city on the verge of war. But is there really any going back?Published in 1939, Coming Up for Air is the most accomplished of Orwell's early realist novels, casting light on the development of Orwell's distinctive thinking as a cultural critic. The novel explores many of the themes Orwell later reprised in 1984: nostalgia, memory, and disillusionment in the face of modernity's ills, including industrialisation, capitalist exploitation, and endless war.