Study Guide

George Orwell Quotes

"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."

George Orwell, "Why I Write"

"At 50, everyone has the face he deserves."

George Orwell, diary entry

"It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working—bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming—toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned—reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone—one mind less, one world less."

George Orwell, "A Hanging"

"Considering how likely we all are to be blown to pieces by it within the next five years, the atomic bomb has not roused so much discussion as might have been expected."

George Orwell, "You and the Atomic Bomb"

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."

George Orwell, "Why I Write"

"Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent."

George Orwell, "Reflections of Gandhi"

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

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"

"He is a great writer against. So his 'Bookshop Memories'—a subject others might turn into a gentle color piece with a few amusing anecdotes—scorns lightness. The work, he declares, is drudgery, quite unrewarding, and makes you hate books; while the customers tend to be thieves, paranoiacs, dimwits, or, at best—when buying sets of Dickens in the improbable hope of reading them—mere self-deceivers. In 'England Your England' he denounces the left-wing English intelligentsia for being 'generally negative' and 'querulous': adjectives which, from this distance, seem to fit Orwell pretty aptly. Given that he died at the age of forty-six, it's scary to imagine the crustiness that might have set in had he reached pensionable age."

Julian Barnes, "Such, Such Was Eric Blair"