George Orwell–Author, Journalist… Blogger?

Most of us know about George Orwell the writer; best known as the author of the novels Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm, it comes as no surprise that Orwell was a journalist as well; but could a man who lived from June 1903 to January 1950 also be a blogger?

Indeed he can! Thanks to the creative minds at The Orwell Prize, we now have The Orwell Diaries–a website in which the journal entries of George Orwell from 1938 to 1942 will be published in blog form, each one exactly 70 years to the day after it was first written. The first entry is from August 9, 1938 and is posted on August 9, 2008.

I love the idea of having the journal entries of any of my favorite writers posted on a semi-daily basis in the imminently friendly and readable blog format! What a stroke of brilliance! And from what I know about Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell was actually his pen name), he would feel this was exactly the right time to be publishing his words once more. With his keen insights into social inequalities and a strong opposition to authority of just about any kind, I wonder what Orwell would have thought and written about our current government administration.

The entries that have been posted thus far (there are only seven as of yet) focus mainly on Orwell’s physical surroundings–the weather, the season, flora and fauna–but I’m hoping that as the diary grows so will the subject matter. This is, after all, the man who had so much to say about other writers in his literary criticism, as well as publishing the following rules for writers in his essay “Politics and the English Language”:

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, jargon word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I’m looking forward to continued reading of Orwell’s diaries. In my experience, Orwell had a keen mind, and a keener desire to change the world for the better. In fact, he doesn’t seem to have been able to write much of anything without his political idealism and a passion for improvement slipping in somehow. In spite of his sometimes dark themes, it seems an act of eternal optimism to continue writing for change as he did. I admire him for that, and look forward to getting to know him a little bit better.

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