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Why I Write (Great Ideas #020)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  9,305 ratings  ·  897 reviews
Whether puncturing the lies of politicians, wittily dissecting the English character or telling unpalatable truths about war, Orwell's timeless, uncompromising essays are more relevant, entertaining and essential than ever in today's era of spin.

"Why I Write", first published 1946
"The Lion and the Unicorn", first published 1940
"A Hanging", first published 1931
Paperback, 120 pages
Published September 6th 2005 by Penguin Group (first published 1946)
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Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Part 56 in the "Another autobiographical review that nobody asked for!"-series.

Why I Review

It was already very late in my boyhood, at thirty years old, when I considered writing book reviews. Being the man of action that I am, which is to say a lazy bum, it was almost to my own surprise that this innocent consideration promptly turned itself into virulent spasms across the keyboard, with my first contributions on Goodreads as the very unfortunate result. Thankfully my friends list at the time on
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
What do they know of Orwell who only Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four know?
-Irving Howe

Why do one write? What is the urgency to write or what is the need to write anything at all? Does one actually have control what one is writing or there is some profound force which influences one’s consciousness or sub-consciousness to do so. Perhaps one writes to get rid of tribulations of life going in his/ her head. For, there must be some way to disburse these anxious ordeals; and what better way it
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Orwell fans and people who like political history
Sometimes it would be nice to get a little closer to the author of your favourite books. See things a little more from their perspective and, you know, really get inside their heads. There are various approaches which can be taken in order to achieve this. Isabelle Arundell was quite a big fan of the work produced by writer, explorer and all round fantasy-adventurer Richard Burton. She achieved closeness by monitoring his globe trotting adventures, hanging out in part of London which he frequent ...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are a few essays in this book, most of them I read before. However, a rereading was welcome, because there was only one essay that I had remembered quite well - Politics And the English Language. I read that one ages ago, when I was still a student. I must admit that Politics And the English Language is still one of my favourite essays by Orwell. It is simply brilliant. If there was a way to do it, I would force everyone to read it. Anyway, today I will review only one essay and that will ...more
Dannii Elle
This is a varied group of essays of equally fascinating proportions. Contrary to what the title led me to believe, not all of these centre around writing and this, instead, was only the title of the first essay in this collection of four.

The first and last essays, Why I Write and Politics and the English Language (of which I have a full review here) were both my particular favourites and the ones that dealt with purely the art of writing. I felt I learned a lot from both of these and are must-re
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Orwell is a genius and I hope to read more of his works soon.
Mark Donnelly
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Each one of us has to decide what we want to do with the days that unfold, way too quickly. Orwell's penmanship cuts through the wordiness that only a man that knows what he wanted, where he was at, and where he wanted to go could achieve.

As a writer myself, I am on a journey where I also knew with a lighting-bolt shift in consciousness at 31 years of age that I was to write. And so my eyes still in a soft thrill, when I find a writer that I can learn from, to understand me, my craft, and life b
To understand why this book means to me as much as it does, it is important to do what Orwell does in the beginning of this book - go back to my childhood. When I was eleven years old, and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had one answer: "I don't know what I want to do, but I know I'll never work in politics." Oh, how wrong I was!

A combination of having to closely follow elections because my grandfather did, and watching Aaron Sorkin shows, primarily, however, piqued my inte
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books, 2015
This is a short little book containing a few of Orwell's writings. These are as follows: A Hanging (1931), The Lion and the Unicorn (1940), Politics and the English Language (1946), and Why I write (1946).

The Lion and the Unicorn is the longest essay by quite some distance, and deals with wartime Britain and how Orwell perceives the British "family," its politics, its weaknesses, flaws, and what the state of the nation is in itself, and what role Britain plays in the war. It begins, "As I write
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
The power of a pen and a mind unapologetically free.

It had been long since I read something by Orwell and I somehow craved for an honest prose.

Such an encounter with Orwell was like sitting with him face to face and letting him describe all he thought while writing his masterpieces. A much needed confrontation with a writer as raw as him.

“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,
Published in 1946, Why I Write is one of Orwell's better known essays. It's really a mini-biography because he talks about his motivations and thought processes relating to his writing at the various stages of his life. He lists political motivation as the most important aspect of writing a novel, for him anyway. He believes that all novels are somewhat political in nature. Also sheer egoism is motivational, the need to be successful, to be remembered. That's just part of it. It's provides an i ...more
Aditi Jaiswal
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
Read. Listen. Think and Reflect.

Why I write? I always have this fear of not having a story to tell, not having an original idea to contribute to the world of literary geniuses and to even stand among the intellectuals with a voice. I fear that. I always want to say things that are my own, because to face the truth, we all have a desire to share our experience which we feel is valuable and to make a positive impact with those words, but more often than not we are gripped by the fear and self-doub
Biblio Curious
Thinkers, Writers, Readers, Teachers and Politicians should read this. And everyone else who says reflecting on our language is important. George Orwell's writing in this book is a little puffed-up but he gets the reader thinking.

The first and last chapters are the best. The middle bits are a little politica but still interesting. (I don't have a lot of political knowledge but I read the middle bits. And found them interesting and a bit dry at times.)

This is definitely a book i want to keep ref
Why I Read (and Why you probably should)

A Collection of four revolutionary essays written by Orwell between 1931 to 1946. Ideas spilled out by the author is very essential for leading a better way of not only politics but everything around it.

Why I Write (1946) - Memoir of his early days aspiring to become writer, dropping it during the 20s and rising again for the purpose. Very short and brief essay on why he wrote and maybe why all write.

The Lion and the Unicorn (1940) - My favourite and Indee
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Published as part of the wonderful Penguin series, Great Ideas, this book contains four of Orwell’s essays, only one of which relates to his early attempts at writing. His message here is that if you want to do something strongly enough you have to be prepared to slog away at it and to be a bit rubbish at it to start with. I was reminded of this quote from Margaret Atwood: “Writing is like trying to catch a greased pig in a dark room. Only become a writer if you are compelled to.”

Another essay
This is the non-fiction Orwell, the man who insists that, in our world, every gesture is a political gesture, every thought is a political one. Great little collection of four of his essays. Thoroughly enjoyed.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, writing
Orwell can do wonders with merely 4 pages. Whenever I read him be it 1984 or just a short essay, it invokes a great deal of mixed emotions.

Why I write is a short essay on Orwell’s writing journey which started at an early age of 4 or 5. I recommend it to anyone who has read anything by Orwell, especially if found any of Orwell’s works unlikable. This essay would give you great insights into why he wrote what he wrote and the circumstances that made him the Orwell.

Being the middle child of 3 wit
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
George Orwell explains his main motivations for writing in these four essays, which are included in the Penguin Great Ideas box set. Basically, he always knew that he would become a writer and his life experiences shaped him, all stemming from when he lived in Burma and saw the injustices of the Imperial Administration that he served as a policeman under. This led George Orwell to become a Socialist, or rather a Democratic Socialist and his journalism exposes the injustices of the system that he ...more
Steven Godin
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it

"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. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine arti
Erica Zahn
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall rating: 4.5 stars.

As much as I love the Penguin Great Minds Collection, I feel the title here is a little misleading – only the first 10 pages out of 120 are the ‘Why I Write’ essay, so about 8% of the book. As a result, I’ll be reviewing the four essays individually, since I feel that’s the most precise approach (and because it’s difficult to assess essays on such different subjects as a collected whole).

Why I Write ★★★★

“So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel st
Lucy Paine
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is brilliant. I can't give it 5* because I felt deceived by the title - the longest essay in this book is actually about politics in the UK at the time of WW2 and Orwell's hopes and arguments for a socialist revolution (not as scary as it sounds). Nevertheless I found that essay very interesting, mainly because a lot of the observations Orwell made back then about the British people and politics could also be made today, therefore crystallising in my mind why some things are the way th ...more
Apr 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
There are several points I'd like to bring across in this review, which will be rather brief due to the fact that there isn't anything interesting in this book that I could elaborate on or gush about.

1) The title is misleading. Neither does this book concern itself with the topic why Orwell decided to write, nor really with the how. Oh well, it does mention rather generic reasons in the first essay, but honestly, these reasons are kind of obvious and applicable to everyone. Instead, Orwell delv
Esther | lifebyesther
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, classics
- Orwell's thoughts on the political side of writing.

- It's Orwell, so the writing is superb.
- The last chapter on writing
- His thoughts on geopolitics were very interesting and informative.

- Thinks that India should not be independent.
- Wish he spent more time on the writing process.
- Felt like I understood what he was saying but didn't know enough to agree/disagree.
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
“In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues....”

Instagram | blog

Interesting but not mindblowing. I didn't learn anything new.
Morgan Holdsworth
Jun 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
A short collection of Orwell essays which really illuminate thoughts on his other works. If you’re a fan of ted talks, I would really recommend picking up the “great ideas” as they’re so easy to read & allow a real taster of some topics and also occasionally go in depth. I particularly enjoyed the first and last sections of the book as well as “hanging” which was immensely well written.
Henry Manampiring
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: English people or those with interest in political language
A collection of essays from the guy invented 'doublespeak', 'groupthink', 'Big Brother', whose own name is immortalized into the English language ('Orwellian').

Roughly 80% of the book is about the English people and its political dynamics during WWII. Unless you have interest in the subject AND have the slightest familiarity with the histirical context, you will waste your time.

The last 20% of the book is actually rare gem. One is Orwell's eye-witness account of a hanging when he was posted in B
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book
Orwell discusses his own personal need ways to to write, and he also talk about politics.
this book contain 4 essays that Orwell wrote during his life.

the one with the title "A Hanging": This rather misplaced essay was taken from his time in Burma. Orwell witnesses a hanging and discusses the rather unusually casual attitude of the hangmen.
it was the best one for me!

the last essay "Politics and the English Language: This brief essay attacks writers for being lazy by relying on recycled phrases i
Sarah Canavan
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: creative minds.
i thought this was really interesting. i love the way that orwell lists everything out before he starts to really get to his point. i feel thats the way that most logical thoughts form anyway. i think he makes a really strong argument for why people do the things they do, be it writing or not. how they grow up and where they find the most affirmation. his numbered reasons for writing really remind me of why any human would have motivation to do anything creative really. sometimes the fear of any ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
George Orwell will always be the pulsation of my bookish heart <3 .
This article - as all of his work - deserve a FAT SOLID FIVE STARS .
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s an easy-to-read book not only for learning the writing motives of Orwell and his literary criticism but also understand his political views, dynamics of the English society in the interwar period and influence of literature on political orientation. I recommend this collection of diverse and short articles for those who want to get a glimpse into Orwell's mind. ...more
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial

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“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. 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. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane.” 117 likes
“So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.” 112 likes
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