This is a book that Orwell wanted repressed thinking that it was a failure. Also, looking at other reviews on here, it seems as if people do not really get it, that much.
The book is about a poet's rejection of a good job and subsequent slide into grim poverty. The book is a satire.
The book satirizes not just the money economy, capitalism and its soul destroying nature as one would expect from Orwell, but also it satirizes the main character's renunciation of the money economy, which it quite clearly represents as self-destructive, perverse and absurd. With a sort of grim whimsy the book posits a world where the two options are an insipid middle class vacuous life style and a perverse self-destruction. Interestingly, it clearly comes down on the side of vacuous middle class lifestyles.
The main character Gordon Comstock is at times so self-destructive and self-defeating that one squirms in one's seat while reading it. I got the feeling that Orwell was satirizing himself with his depiction of Comstock and, as one might expect from a genius, the satire is so sharp and pointed that it is difficult to read. The only book that has made me cringe more in embarrassment for its hero is Notes from the Underground. Orwell is a great writer and this is a very good book. Because the monied economy is so thoroughly damned, but Gordon is such a selfish fool throughout most of the book, it is hard to know what to make of the book.
The book is difficult to interpret and I think that it represents issues that Orwell was not really capable of resolving for himself. It is by its nature both biting and ambiguous. I found it Orwell's most challenging work - both in reading through Comstock's self-inflicted humiliations and also in trying to understand what it is trying to say.
I think it is sort of a scream forced through a filter of whimsy. Well worth reading.