Orwell himself, writing before he had completed Nineteen Eighty-Four , said that he thought Critical Essays one of his three most important books, along with Animal Farm and Homage to Catalonia .  His contemporaries in the world of criticism also largely saw the book's merits. The journalist Tosco Fyvel , writing in Tribune , acclaimed Orwell as "a national figure as a critic, satirist and political journalist", while disagreeing with Orwell's view that the Attlee government was uncommitted to the introduction a fully socialist society.  In the Catholic paper The Tablet Evelyn Waugh predictably deplored Orwell's lack of religious feeling, but also wrote that the essays "represent at its best the new humanism of the common man", and that Orwell was "outstandingly the wisest" of the new critics.   Middleton Murry , who likewise criticised Orwell's secularism, nevertheless called Orwell and Cyril Connolly the two most gifted critics of their generation. V. S. Pritchett considered the essays "brilliant examples of political anthropology applied to literature by a non-conforming mind". Eric Bentley saw the book as "a dirge for nineteenth-century liberalism", and, like Irving Howe , thought it represented Orwell at his best.  Edmund Wilson , a critic to whom most others compared Orwell, called him "the only contemporary master" of sociological criticism, praising him for his courage in rejecting the reigning orthodoxies, and for "a prose style that is both downright and disciplined".  A recent survey of Orwell's work endorses his own high opinion of its importance, calling it "Orwell at his best", a book which "showed Orwell's talent for finding deep meaning in otherwise trivial matters",  while Bernard Crick said that Orwell's essays "may well constitute his lasting claim to greatness as a writer".