Whenever I read Orwell, I have hope. For this reason I consider him to be, if there can be any such thing, the best English writer to ever have published.
In these essays, he never lets me forget. Where is his clarity – both stylistic and moral – in today’s world? I really mean this. Today’s George Orwell is … who? Michael Moore? Come on now. Moore has made himself so ridiculous as to lead me to wonder if he were not a whole construction of the Bush administration existing only to discredit liberals. I’d propose that thesis without tongue in cheek if every other modern liberal did not share his casual disregard for moral and intellectual clarity. I seriously question whether I can be correct in my political views when everyone writing in support of me comes off as a halfwit sophist. And I don’t mean that in a nice way.
Going back to Orwell even just for a few pages is to me like reading the Bible is for some. I am reminded that I need not apologize for knowing right from wrong.
By the way, to those who a year ago were saying that you don’t change horses midstream and that one should not change Presidents during wartime, I have one word, although a year late: Chamberlain.
On a more personal note, the first paragraph of the essay Why I Write hit me particularly hard:
“From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true natue and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.”
Were you to replace “write” and “writer” with “draw” and “illustrator” and substitute the numbers “twenty-three” and “thirty-six” (am I optimistic?) for seventeen and twenty-four in the above paragraph, it could describe me quite aptly.
I read this piecemeal and should like to reread several of these essays in the not-too-distant future. Politics and the English Language remains one of the must-read essays for any writer of English. England Your England stirred my patriotism despite my country being the United States – much of Orwell’s view of England in the nineteen-thirties applies (although of course much does not). Inside the Whale made me want to read Henry Miller, something countless acquaintances have failed to do.