Number of Pages: 120
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: 1946
“Whether puncturing the lies of politicians, wittily dissecting the English character or telling unpalatable truths about war, Orwell’s timeless, uncompromising essays are more relevant, entertaining and essential than ever in today’s era of spin.”
This book is actually a collection of four essays written by George Orwell in the 1940s. Prior to this I had only read his novel 1984, which I loved (click here to read my review of it!) so I was really excited to see what his nonfiction writing was like. First I’ll give my thoughts on each essay individually, and then I’ll discuss my overall feeling about the collection.
“Why I Write” – 4 out of 5 smileys: It was really interesting to read about Orwell’s passion for writing, although I wish he had talked more about his own personal experiences and feelings rather than about writing in general. The title of this essay is a bit misleading, I think. However, the parts where he does discuss his own personal experiences with writing are excellent and really made him feel like more of a person to me rather than merely an author’s name on a book.
“The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius” – 3 out of 5 smileys: This was my least favorite essay in this collection. For the most part it was talking about the politics in England at the time, which became quite dull after a while. Still, it was interesting to read this from the point of view of someone living before WWII ended. My favorite part is when Orwell discusses the political plan he would propose to improve England’s government. I didn’t expect this to be in a collection titled Why I Write, but it was nevertheless an intriguing read.
“A Hanging” – 4 out of 5 smileys: Despite its short length, this essay is incredibly powerful. It really makes you think about how dehumanizing war is and how it can alter how we view other people, even though they are simply human beings like ourselves. I actually gasped when I read the last sentence- it’s that striking!
“Politics and the English Language” – 5 out of 5 smileys: This was my favorite of the four essays in this collection. I could completely understand Orwell’s argument against the direction the English language is heading in. The scary thing is that he wrote this essay over sixty years ago- imagine what he would say about the English language today! He used plenty of evidence to support his claims, and the quotes he incorporated really helped to illustrate exactly what he was trying to prove. I love how he makes the distinction between literary and political language as well, because it’s something that not many people take the time to emphasize. As someone who absolutely loves writing, I had such a great time reading this essay!
Overall, I quite enjoyed this collection of essays, even though I would have liked more discussion pertaining to the actual title of the collection. Nevertheless, Orwell’s writing is exceptional and it’s clear that he was an incredibly brilliant man. I can’t wait to read more of his work!
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely! I don’t necessarily think you have to read any of Orwell’s writing before reading this, although I think you can appreciate where he is coming from more if you have.
What novels or other works by George Orwell would you recommend? What are your thoughts on his books? Are there any other essay collections by different authors that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!