Reading Collected Essays by George Orwell, a book I’ve had on my shelf for many years, it was a gift from my sister one year, that I’d not wanted to read each time I’d picked it up over many years, but also did not give it away, it had felt like ‘for another time’, and the time came…
It stayed with me, because my sister Jenna had told me it was a spontaneous gift idea when I was wondering about the author, that she noticed at the bookshop she’d never see me read essays before and thought to get it, when more commonly she’d give a more ‘direct gift.’ My sister was born in 1984, (same birthday as Charlotte Bronte too), and she wasn’t as much into reading herself or literary things as I was. She reads more now than she had before (and she likes psychological suspense fiction.) Well, the time for me to read this book I see is…today. 🙂
To my surprise, I enjoyed George Orwell’s crime fiction essay greatly, the driving ideas beneath different crime stories and contrasted, English and British, 1900s, “pulp fiction,” and 1940s, all compared in a short essay. I also was very moved by Orwell’s essay “Shooting An Elephant,” only knowing beforehand Orwell was a writer, and then finding out he was British and Indian, a police officer during the Spanish Civil War: this essay could really reach anyone, human or animal, breathtakingly written.
I conclude with the verses of a poem Orwell wrote 2 years after the war, remembering an Italian man he fought with yrs later:
Your name and your deeds were forgotten And the lie that slew you is buried under a deeper lie; But the thing I saw in your face No power can disinherit: No bomb that ever burst Shatters the crystal spirit I also enjoyed how details gave me a better understanding of how I may write some scenes of conflict in the novel I am writing, questions answered not really knowing I’d be asking. I read only a few essays now among the others; these I’ve read today were really monumental. I worked on my novel a couple hundred more words this morning, and I completed writing the poems from the different future poetry projects, the few recent ones I’d shared on the blog (the rest: surprises). And this book helped me toward the “action” parts of my novel that will be coming up as I write it.