Still a mystery

I picked up a collection of essays by George Orwell, called Why I Write, thinking that it might give a history of his motivation, the genesis of his ideas, the day-to-day craft as he practices it, and other such insights about writing.

I was disappointed.

Aside from the eponymous essay, which is a mere ten pages long, there is nothing in the slim book that even comes close to what I had hoped to find. The bulk of the book, the longest essay by far, has to do with his plan for a socialist revolution in England during and after the Second World War. A short remembrance of a hanging he participated in during his Colonial years marks the third work in the book. And the final essay, “Politics and the English Language” is so thoroughly eviscerated in this link, that I have little more I dare say about it. (Thanks for the link, Brian.)

I’ll say it anyway, though. Orwell does make one point that I happen to agree with. He notes that grammar and syntax are unimportant as long as one makes one’s meaning clear. I realize this is outright blasphemy to some, but only to those devotees of the anemic middle style. Take a look at just about any bit of non-journalism writing, and you will likely quickly find all sorts of grammar violations.

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