A Collection of Essays

Posted on Oct 29, 2010 | 0 comments

by George Orwell.

At the Writer’s Fest this year I went to the Penprick of Conscience panel discussion, with writers Karen Connelly, Deborah Ellis, Steven Heighton, and Larry Scanlan.  It was a great discussion on the topic of personal and political engagement in the act of writing, lots of interesting points made, and amazing stories told.   

Karen Connelly described her time in Burma and how she spent time living in a house that happened to have a number of George Orwell books in its library, including his novel Burmese Days.  She read and re-read the books, comparing Orwell’s experiences in Burma with her own.  She also read his essay Why I Write.  She quoted from that essay,

What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art.  My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice.  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.

Connelly reminded me of how much I admire and appreciate Orwell.  These words are invigorating to me because I feel like I have the same initial motivation to write – even though it is unfashionable to say so in our age, when writing that is not purely literary in its intention is looked at with suspicion, if not scorn.  It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone and I feel some kinship with the great man.

Now, back to my brand new copy of Orwell’s A Collection of Essays (including Why I Write)…

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