Happy Birthday George Orwell!

Today is the birthday of one of my heroes – the fantastic George Orwell. Steering clear of too much gushing (with difficulty), I am here today to pay homage to this literary giant. A man of formidable talents, Orwell is remarkable for his appreciation of human nature and understanding of its expression within social structures. Both Animal Farm and 1984 remain positioned as the greatest political dystopian works in circulation and will, I believe, continue to be celebrated as such.

I do not want to stray into the realms of biography here – these are details that I have already related in my Literary Excursion: An Orwellian Outing post. Instead, I believe that the only way to truly celebrate the contributions that George Orwell has made to the literary field is through the words of the man himself.

On Writing

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there 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.”

– Why I Write

“I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure in everyday life.”

– Why I Write

On Politics

“Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

– Politics and the English Language

“Political chaos is connected with the decay of language…one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.”

– Politics and the English Language

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

– The Freedom of the Press

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”


On Humanity

“Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is possible that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never had much temptation to be human beings.”

– Reflections on Gandhi

“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good and not quite all the time.”

– All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays

And finally, a poem…

Awake young men of England (1914)

Oh! give me the strength of the Lion

The wisdom of Reynard the Fox

And then I’ll hurl troops at the Germans

And give them the hardest of knocks.


Oh! think of the War lord’s mailed fist,

That is striking at England today:

And think of the lives that our soldiers

Are fearlessly throwing away.


Awake! Oh you young men of England,

For if when your country’s in need,

You do not enlist by the thousand,

You truly are cowards indeed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s