July 29, 2015

Wednesday Writing Wisdom (18) George Orwell

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

George Orwell
(1903 - 1950)
Curious facts about:

Born as Eric Arthur Blair he changed his name (allegedly because he was concerned for his parent's reputation) to George Orwell. "George" was taken from the King and "Orwell" from the river of that name. Another reason for “Orwell” was because he wanted a name that started with a letter in the middle of the alphabet. Why? Because, as he stated in a letter to bookseller Louis Simmonds, it allowed for his books to be placed in the middle shelf in bookstores. Not too high, where customers can’t see and not too low where he would be near the customer’s feet.

"Animal Farm" is an allegorical satire of the Russian Revolution of October 1917 and, above all, of how things went badly wrong under Stalin in the Soviet Union. The Party was all powerful and literally watched over Winston Smith's (and everyone's) every move and even his thoughts. He tries to rebel and escape, but the Party drag him back and re-indoctrinate him into the system. Written over 50 years ago the more astute social observer may see some evidence today of where Orwell thought we were heading.

 Orwell WAS an atheist. He identified as one. But he also still hung onto the traditions of the Church of England, and many of his morals were Christian-based. He was also quite superstitious. While in a Wallington church yard, he could have sworn he saw a ghost. He had  the belief that people could do secret black magic on a person’s name—another reason he chose a pen name. In his early Eton days, he and a schoolmate created a voodoo doll out of soap of an older kid they felt bullied them. The kid would end up breaking his leg and, later, dying of cancer. Orwell felt guilty about this fact for the rest of his life. In Burma, he got small blue circles tattooed on his knuckles to ward off bad luck.


  1. Wow, he was a very superstitious man... I never realized. I remember reading Animal Farm in school, and then later 1984. Parts of 1984 still stand out vividly in my mind. I also never realized George Orwell was a pen name. Most interesting why he chose it!

    1. I find it interesting the reasoning of choosing the name - a letter in the middle of the alphabet! animal Farm is valid nowadays, unfortunately, in many fields of life around here. I am sad to see it. Thanks for stopping by, Mae!

  2. I absolutely love his quote. Animal Farm was one of my college favorites, and it's scary to "feel" that aura around so much these days. He seemed to peer into our future. Clever on the name thing.

    1. A real visionary I dare say. What he imagined, unfortunately, came true and is getting worse here. Thank you for dropping by, Flossie!


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