New blogger: George Orwell

Well, technically, it’s not a blog. And technically, the author is Eric Blair, though George Orwell is the best known of his pen names.

The Orwell Prize (“Britain’s pre-eminient prize for political writing,” if they do say so themselves) is publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog.

They began a few weeks ago and will post his entries in real time, 70 years to the day after each was written. He began the diaries on August 9th, 1938 and kept them till October, 1942. So we’ve got a just-started blog that’s guaranteed to last for the next four years. Get your feeder ready.

A splendid joining of technology (blog software) with one of the most observant writers of the twentieth century. As a partner for The Elements of Style, it’s hard to argue with Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (1946) — and I’m not talking just about politics.

More than one blogger (including me) could take on board advice like this:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

A while back, I read the four-volume George Orwell: Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters, edited by Ian Angus and Sonia Orwell (George’s widow). Different content from his diaries, but just as widely ranging, from book criticism to short notes to friends to a letter suggesting four possible pen names to use on Animal Farm. (He seems to have left the choice up to his agent and his publisher. )