George Orwell’s essay ‘Why I Write?’ is a detailed account of his way towards becoming a writer. He takes the reader on a journey from his first poems and stories to the pieces of writing that make him famous to finally explain the four reasons of writing.
Orwell experiments with ‘a mere description of what I was doing and the things I saw’ and naturalistic books before he becomes a political writer. Why a political writer? Well, it is the age he lives in that forces him into it. His working in the Indian Imperial Police at the time is another piece of evidence motivating his inability to stay away from political issues. After listing the ‘four motives for writing’, Orwell confesses that ‘I am a person in whom the first three motives would outweigh the fourth. In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties.’ If he is still not sure what side to take, it is the Spanish war that clears his views in this respect. ‘The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism.’ Nevertheless, the author declares that ‘I could not do the work of writing a book,…., if it were not also an aesthetic experience.’ In order to make clear that there are not only problems of ‘construction and language’, but also of ‘truthfulness’ when writing in this way, Orwell gives his political book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ as an example. He specifies that it preserves the writer’s literary instinct while it does not fail to tell truth. Furthermore, the writer mentions ‘Animal Farm’ as being his first book in which he successfully combines the ‘political purpose’ with the artistic one. Putting down the four reasons of writing Orwell states that ‘no book is genuinely free from political bias.’ He continues by...
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