#WEB206 – George Orwell’s ‘Why I Write’


Your final assignment asks you to answer a question in reference to your response to George Orwell’s piece, ‘Why I write‘.

So – let’s start early with Orwell. Have a read and post your initial responses to it – did you like it? not like it? agree? disagree? what point is he trying to make? Do you think it is a valid point?

We will then come back to Orwell at different points of the study period and see if your response have changed.


I have always enjoyed reading Orwell’s writing and this essay proved to be no different. As an aspiring writer, a few of his assertions resonated with me, particularly this one:

“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.”

I have never written a book, but I know of this faceless demon he refers to… intimately. It’s an almost inexplicable urge… that nudges me now and then… in a variety of contexts. It also goes some way to explaining why I have quite a few blogs on the go.

However, having just watched the first Echo lecture for this unit, I am extra conscious of the fact that I should probably avoid making statements that are all about me. (Thanks, Leanne!) So, to that end, I will employ commentary.

I enjoyed reading Orwell’s list of factors that drives a writer to write: sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. They made sense to me. I have read much where those drivers are apparent in authors’ works. It fascinates me how, with the art of words and language, different writers can entrance me, whilst others, or even different pieces by the same author, can repel or bore me. Reading words that are written on a page, in the order that the author deems appropriate, can have a wonderful array of effects on different readers – it’s a highly personalised experience.

I found it impressive to note that, in a relatively short piece of writing, Orwell can take his reader through his development as a writer from childhood to adulthood. He expresses his growth by the heinous historical events he beheld and lived through, and how such lived experiences made his writing evolve over time. He expresses recognition of how he knows what is driving him to write… expressing his opinions “… against totalitarianism, and for democratic socialism” – as he understands them. He admits to his biases and does not promise absolute fact, but facts as he witnessed these events and how he interpreted them and reacted to them.

(On a side note, it would be interesting to compare Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia with Hemingway’s response to the Spanish civil war to see the perspectives that each writer brings to the same event.)

I finished reading this piece with the impression that Orwell was self-aware of his writing stages and what he was ultimately driven by as he matured. He completely recognised, what he considered to be, his best writing and why that was… but, as a reader, I particularly appreciated the fact that he was able to convey his journey through his writing, bring the reader on that adventure with him… whilst still leaving room for the reader to breathe – to provide a space for the reader to ponder and think more profoundly about similarities and/or differences they would have in similar situations. The chance to reflect on why they would write, if it was something that appealed to them also.


About Maha @ Uni

Studying online, and want to keep a record of my progress and experiences...
This entry was posted in #WEB206, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Spanish Civil War, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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