Eric Blair was born on this day, June 25, in 1903. Thirty years later Blair changed his name with the publication of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). His preferred pen name, George Orwell, chosen for being “a good round English name” (in his words).
Your friendly editor at theDiagonal classes George Orwell as one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century. His numerous political writings, literary reviews, poems, newspaper columns and 7 novels should be compulsory reading for minds young and old. His furious intellectual honesty, keen eye for exposing hypocrisy and skepticism of power add further considerable weight to his literary legacy.
In 1946, two years before publication of one of the most important works of the 20th century, 1984, Orwell wrote a passage that summarizes his world view and rings ever true today:
Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. (Politics and the English Language, 1946).