140 thoughts on “George Orwell’s “Why I Write”

  1. Corbin Knapp

    Corbin Knapp
    ENGL 270 – 2
    Christie Hinrichs

    George Orwell Reading Review

    George Orwell‘s “Why I Write” describes his affection for writing even at an early age. The article relates his ideas on the inspiration for authors to write. Although I agree with most of Orwell‘s article, I disagree with some passages. I can relate with Orwell, because I enjoyed writing at an early age as well. However, I hardly ever finish the stories I start. His struggles to write without being biased in some way also spoke to me , because I have trouble writing papers in a neutral fashion.

    One of the ideas I disagree with Orwell on, is the belief that the only motives for writing are the ones he believes in. I don’t think that the only motives for writing are seeming to be clever and craving attention, writing just because of the sheer thrill of writing,writing because of historical impulse, or for political purpose. There are many other motives for writing , such as just writing for fun, writing because it is required of you, and writing a poem or short story just to past the time.

    What this article taught me is that there are many different ways that a writer can express what they feel, no matter if they write an article for a newspaper or if they write propaganda. Orwell seems to think that all writers have at least one of the motives stated in his article, and that it is the nature of writers to be vain, selfish, and lazy. I do not agree with this statement. Everyone is different and to say that all writers share the same traits is simplistic.

    Orwell seemed to enjoy writing, yet he says in this article that his writings have been filled with mistakes and “humbug generally” (Orwell 6), even though he has written popular pieces such as Animal Farm. He also stated that after the Spanish War his serious writings were against totalitarianism and backing democratic socialism. He wrote that when he made a book it was not for the pleasure of writing, but for exposing some lie that he thought was unjust.

    This was an interesting article to read, providing me with a new view on the motives that Orwell believed motivated people to write. He believed every person followed at least one of the motives stated in the article to some degree. Orwell made it seem that to write a book without any bias was nearly impossible. He tells us about a book he wrote that would’ve been unbiased except for a long chapter full of newspaper quotations and the like which put into words in a quote from the article.“You’ve turned what might have been a good book into journalism”(Orwell 5). I think Orwell was a good writer and this article is a good read, even if I don’t agree with everything he wrote. Orwell‘s pessimistic view of humanity is not a view I share and I try to believe that people write because they enjoy writing.

    Works Cited:
    Orwell, George. “Why I Write.” Gangrel, English 270, Christie Hinrichs, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 24 July, 2004,
    https://engl270.community.uaf.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/753/2015/05/Why-I-Write-Orwell.pdf. Accessed 17 January. 2018. Class handout.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      Thank you! I completely agree on there being way more motivations for people to write. I too have a more optimistic view on the joy of writing as well, though that may be due to the time period that we’re in? I appreciate and respect Orwell, but am not sure how he would fit in now. Would he still hold a pessimistic view and be paranoid of the openness of the internet and the possibility of ‘big brother’? Or would he be more optimistic considering the detachment of the threat here in the United States? I imagine it would probably depend on the region he was located in and also what resources and experiences he had even within this time period. It seriously just goes to show how unique everyone’s perspectives can be.

    2. T Gordon

      I also related to how Orwell wanted to write from a young age, but rarely finished a work. I wonder if we walk away from these stories mainly because of life’s distractions, or because we feel that we are not taking them in the right direction? It is amazing to think that we could come back to these old, unfinished stories one day and finally tie them up!

      I agree with you that writers are much more complex people than Orwell may suggest. Our motives for writing probably change much more dynamically than Orwell seems to think. I could feel very persuaded by political motives one day, and then the next day, become more focused on writing a great, beautiful novel primarily to appease critics. This may also depend upon which part of the novel I am currently writing.

  2. Monica Gallagher

    Monica Gallagher
    ENGL 270-2
    “George Orwell’s “Why I Write””

    George Orwell gives a brief description and background of himself, then describes various types of meat to a piece of writing work. He goes on to describe his own prolific tendency towards political passion, more so after the occurrence of fascism and war. He explains how sometimes even if you try to shape your work that you often will end up innately leaning towards a specific style or subject. That if you try and get outside of your passion box that it will more or likely defeat the body of work.

    His own individual life experiences throughout the years as well as the world experiences going on around him throughout those years shaped the type of writer that he was. That is why the uniqueness of writers in specific time periods are so unique and truly once in a lifetime for some. I think it’s so important to preserve writings from around the world. It gives such a rich historical perspective that is truly priceless. This shows that fiction can be just as useful as non-fiction in painting a picture of the type life that is occurring in the time of the writer.

    On the flip side of that, you have some writers that seem completely out of their time. In fact, Orwell was one of them, writing such extremes of some of the ideals that he was exposed to in his era. It definitely makes you wonder about collective consciousness and the power of the imagination. It makes me think about some of these sci fi books and movies that are coming out, that seem to be exposing us to certain elements that in the future may possibly become reality. Traditional novelists like Orwell that almost seemed to predict some aspects of society that are happening now, to some extent, aren’t as prolific now. It seems like a lot of the writers that are in this style of out of this world writing are media writers focusing on movies and shows. It is quite possible that also I just have not been exposed to this type of writer and/or may not even recognize it for a futuristic approach because we do not know yet what will happen in the future.

    I digress, I appreciate Orwell’s “Why I Write” and respect that he was able to be so self-aware of his own writing style and intentions of writing. He obviously was very driven by politics, felt that was very important to the world and that it needed to be shared to others in order to facilitate change. Others may feel a strong passion for other subjects and draw that out in their writings to share with others. That is the greatest thing about uniqueness and writing, is that there is room for everyone. All subjects, genres and topics are needed to satiate everyone’s interests. What kind of world would we live in if we all wrote about one thing or we all looked the same or we all had the same background? A boring one. I myself don’t even think Orwell listed enough motives for writers. There has to be more than four reasons why people write, I don’t think we could all fit into four boxes, or would want too. There are endless motives to write and infinite amounts of variation in writers.

    Cheers to uniqueness!

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    All subjects, genres and topics are needed to satiate everyone’s interests. What kind of world would we live in if we all wrote about one thing or we all looked the same or we all had the same background? A boring one. I myself don’t even think Orwell listed enough motives for writers. There has to be more than four reasons why people write, I don’t think we could all fit into four boxes, or would want too. There are endless motives to write and infinite amounts of variation in writers.

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