Since his death Orwell's reputation has derived largely from the anti-totalitarian emphasis in his later writings, even if it is now widely agreed that Nineteen Eighty-Four in particular does not represent any sudden shift towards pessimism in Orwell's thought. This article argues that Orwell's understanding and critique of twentieth century developments was much wider than many of his readers still presume. Instead of being read only as an anti-totalitarian theorist, Orwell must instead by seen as a critic of modernity, of modern industrial civilization (in both its capitalist and socialist forms) and its hedonistic culture. Orwell's critique of hedonism and conception of its relationship to industrialism is probably the single most important area of his thought not to have received adequate treatment by scholars and critics. To appreciate its significance is thus to establish him as a more sophisticated social and political thinker than he is usually assumed to have been, as well as to show that too narrow a political reading of his work obscures essential features in its development. Orwell does, of course, oppose political tyranny even in his early works, but he also identified the characteristics of what he regarded as a distinctively novel and modern form of civilization, which underlay and to some extent provided the cultural and psychological bases for the emergence of new, totalitarian forms of tyranny.