This essay is one of George Orwell’s most highly touted. With it, he uses his own evolution as a author to show the reader what makes a good writer. He analyzes his childhood writings and through a contemplative lens, he shows what motivations shaped him. This essay is a refreshing and interesting look at a person’s journey, laced with excellent insights into one of the greatest writers of all time.
Orwell breaks down all writer’s motives into the following four characteristics; sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose. He states that these four exist with varying degrees of intensity, depending upon the writer’s environment and personality. I rather enjoy the notion that all literature has been penned by people under the influence of the four above ideals. It takes some of the intangible out of writing, while still pushing one to ask even more questions.
More than anything in this essay, Orwell’s discussion of his creative choices made during the process of writing Animal Farm is excellent. He made a conscious effort to blend political ideology into an artistic narrative. For an author to look back objectively at their own works and discuss their merits and failings is valuable. You see how his tastes changed and how fluidly his work reflected the environment he inhabited. This short essay is worth the read, as it provides a fascinating opportunity to see inside the mind of George Orwell and what he felt motivated a writer.
Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here or download his e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.