O is for Orwell, George

1903 - 1950

If you’re a writer you could not have missed this author.. Eric Arthur Blair.. or George Orwell and his famous rules for writing. Two of his most famous books Animal Farm and 1984 are stuff that’s taught in classrooms.

Animal Farm, inspired by the Stalin Era in the Soviet Union is an easy interesting read with way deeper connotations. However, I have to confess, I found 1984 extremely depressing. The dystopian totalitarian state Orwell describes in his book is so suffocating, so frustrating that I put down the book often only to go back to it looking for that one tiny spark of hope but none came. That is not to say it isn't a powerful read. Sometimes you need to delve into the uncomfortable too. This was one such.

His life

Orwell was born in Motihari Bihar in British India. His father was a British civil servant. He studied in England and joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. However soon he resigned to become a writer. He moved to Paris but had no success with his writing and had to take up menial jobs.  His first book Down and Out in Paris and London, published in 1933 talks of his experiences.

A few years later he travelled to Spain to fight for the republicans. He was forced to flee in fear of his life from Soviet backed Communists and turned into an anti Stalinist for life.

In 1945 he wrote Animal Farm followed by 1984. His other fiction works include Burmese Days, A Clergyman’s Daughter and Coming up for AirHe continued writing for various periodicals and also worked for the BBC.

He passed away in 1950 of tuberculosis.

His inspiration

Authors find inspiration in varied places for Orwell it came from “a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I set down to write a book, I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art’, I write it because ther 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…” That’s quoted from him essay ‘Why I write’.

Since ‘being heard’ was his primary objective he kept his writing style simple. Yet he managed to leave an impact that stays with you for a long while. He aimed at making ‘political writing into an art’ and he did.

His essays

I discovered his essays pretty recently while reading Vinod Mehta’s biography Lucknow Boy, which by the way is also an amazing read. Mehta counts Orwell as his favourite author whose essays are ‘his bedside read’. That got me going and I found some very interesting ones..

He seemed to have picked up varied topics as diverse as..

Bookshop Memories  - I loved this one where he talks about the kind of people who came to him while he worked at a book shop, the kind of books they read versus the kind of books they bought. Also how working at the bookshop put him off books – even that wonderful smell that we all love.

A nice cup of tea – A tea lover himself he talks about how to make that perfect cup of tea.. a fun read.

The Hanging – A chilling account of his Burma days when he witnessed a hanging.

… And many many more. Check them out here.

My dear friend Shilpa of A Rose is a Rose is a Rose got in first and got Orwell right.
*Clap clap clap*

Tomorrow's author was born in American but spent most of her life in China and that's where she picked her stories from. Oh and she's the winner of the Pulitzer Prize as well as the Nobel prize for Literature. Guesses anyone?

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.


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