November 3, 2007

Why I Write
George Orwell

So, You Wanna be a Writer, Eh? – When Little George Orwell was growing up, he enjoyed a “facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.” In his adolescence, he discovered the “the joy of mere words, i.e., the sounds and associations of words.” After sharing this bit of autobiography, the great writer uses this concise, compelling essay to outline reasons why people write – ranging from the “need to earn a living” and “sheer egotism” to “aesthetic enthusiasm,” “historical impulse” and “political purpose.” Orwell writes, he says, “because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” While acknowledging that “every book is a failure” in attempting to “fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole,” Orwell concludes with a sobering reflection: “And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.”


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