George Orwell’s luminous truths

Ca02b508-0329-4c64-a986-f84f70ec79f6Jason Cowley at the Financial Times:

Orwell could see things but he could also see ahead because he had such an acute interest in and understanding of the present, informed by deep knowledge of the past and of the canon of English literature. The limpidity of his prose — he said that he wished to “make political writing into an art” — could be explained by his desire to be understood, especially by the general reader.

He did not wish to obfuscate, intimidate or obscure. He despised jargon. In his great essay “Politics and the English Language” he warned against the dangers of the “inflated style” — against excessive stylistic ornamentation, long words, redundant or strained metaphor, ready-made formulation and use of the passive voice. He wanted to illuminate the times in which he lived — to show as well as tell, to report and discover rather than merely pontificate.

Both left and right have claimed him. The right because of his vigorous anti-totalitarianism, popularised in the late novelsAnimal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and because in his essays and journalism he never ceased challenging leftist conformity, the actions of those he contemptuously called the “orthodoxy-sniffers”. In a 1941 review of Malcolm Muggeridge’s The Thirties, he writes of the “shallow self-righteousness of the leftwing intelligentsia”.

more here.

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