Happy Birthday, George

George Orwell is a great writer, period, and if you ask yours truly, his greatness comes through in "l984" not  just in the prescience of his thought, but in the passion of Winston and Julia. Surely they are the sexiest of all couples in political literature.

I do wonder why on earth he changed his name from Eric Blair to George Orwell. Yes, it’s a pen name, but the second name’s no more memorable than the first. I’ve asked a couple of English friends, assuming it must be some sort of secret apparent only to Brits, but no one seems to know.

One of Orwell’s many charms is his ability to write extraordinarily well not just as a novelist and essayist, but casually, off the cuff. Here’s a column on the common toad that I treasure, which includes, characteristically, a great big dollop of common sense:

I have always suspected that if our economic and political problems are ever really solved, life will become simpler instead of more complex, and that the sort of pleasure one gets from finding the first primrose will loom larger than the sort of pleasure one gets from eating an ice to the tune of a Wurlitzer. I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and – to return to my first instance – toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, George

  1. That’s a great quote and sent me searching for something from my favorite Orwell book, his first, “Down and Out in Paris and London” but it looks like I’ve lent it out again. Check it out if you’ve never read it. The book is much less grim than the title implies and it’s often very funny, Plus, the observations about how poor people are treated in France vs. England (indulgently vs. punitively) are fascinating.

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  2. It’s been a long time since I read “Down and Out in Paris and London,” but I remember loving that book. Interesting what you bring up about the treatment of poor people in France vs. England. What I remember most about the book was the built-in hypocrisy, if you will, of the elegant French restaurants where he worked, which were hoity-toity and polished in the dining rooms, and pits of cruelty and vermin down below where the food was prepared.

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