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Politics and the English Language

Politics and the English Language [Kindle Edition]

George Orwell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

'Politics and the English Language' is widely considered Orwell's most important essay on style. Style, for Orwell, was never simply a question of aesthetics; it was always inextricably linked to politics and to truth.'All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.'Language is a political issue, and slovenly use of language and cliches make it easier for those in power to deliberately use misleading language to hide unpleasant political facts. Bad English, he believed, was a vehicle for oppressive ideology, and it is no accident that 'Politics and the English Language' was written after the close of World War II.

About the Author

Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), better known by his pen-name, George Orwell, was born in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. An author and journalist, Orwell was one of the most prominent and influential figures in twentieth-century literature. His unique political allegory Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with the dystopia of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame. All his novels and non-fiction, including Burmese Days (1934), Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) and Homage to Catalonia (1938) are published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 132 KB
  • Print Length: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,934 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

George Orwell is one of England's most famous writers and social commentators. Among his works are the classic political satire Animal Farm and the dystopian nightmare vision Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was also a prolific essayist, and it is for these works that he was perhaps best known during his lifetime. They include Why I Write and Politics and the English Language. His writing is at once insightful, poignant and entertaining, and continues to be read widely all over the world.

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there.

At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.

It was around this time that Orwell's unique political allegory Animal Farm (1945) was published. The novel is recognised as a classic of modern political satire and is simultaneously an engaging story and convincing allegory. It was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which finally brought him world-wide fame. Nineteen Eighty-Four's ominous depiction of a repressive, totalitarian regime shocked contemporary readers, but ensures that the book remains perhaps the preeminent dystopian novel of modern literature.

Orwell's fiercely moral writing has consistently struck a chord with each passing generation. The intense honesty and insight of his essays and non-fiction made Orwell one of the foremost social commentators of his age. Added to this, his ability to construct elaborately imaginative fictional worlds, which he imbued with this acute sense of morality, has undoubtedly assured his contemporary and future relevance.

George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skinny but beautiful 12 Aug 2013
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of the most influential how-to books in the history of English writing - up there with the greats such as The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers. Though it's only 24 pages long - quite a percentage shorter than Chicago or Strunk - it contains from the first a wealth of interesting stuff for lovers of language.

It's not all totally to be agreed with - whatever say Philip French, John Carey, Tom Stoppard and all the other luminaries quoted inside the front cover. Start at the beginning of that great first sentence - "Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way". Orwell already has us tacitly agreeing there are few who really care about language, and that most of this minority would agree English is used in ways that render it 'ugly and inaccurate', due to 'slovenliness'.

I'm not sure about this. English actually seems to me today full of flourish, bravado, creativity, novelty, sparkiness, cheek and wit. Yet Orwell's passionate style is never hectoring, and leaves room for a reader to think whether she agrees with his carefully constructed essay. And whilst I'm not sure that in 2013 anyone uses the expression 'cul de sac' to 'give an air of culture and elegance' (I think these days it's more suggestive of depressive small-minded house-building) we have our equivalent irritating linguistic habits - just think what fun George would have had with 'medalling' and all those 'emotives' during the Olympics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules are drawn from George Orwell's 1945 essay, Politics and the English Language. Yes, it's an essay, not a whole book, and this edition, although bearing the Penguin imprint, is really no more than a pamphlet. It has a paper cover and is held together with two staples.

Orwell would have been much more familiar than ourselves with pamphlets containing serious political or other matter. And this is certainly serious matter; primarily about the English Language (how she should be wrote!), not much about politics. Orwell's explanation for the prominence of the word Politics in his title is that "All issues are political issues...."

Many readers will relish the words with which he follows that statement. Penguin reproduces them on the back cover of this edition, but I won't spoil all the fun here.

Back in 1945, the samples of bad writing that Orwell dissects in the pages leading up to his set of rules would also have been a source of 'fun'. All five samples were contemporary, and two were penned by eminent professors. Egos were surely deflated, if not enemies made.

Orwell recognises that positioning himself as a critic of the writing of others, even going so far as to set down general rules, is certain to attract criticism of his own writing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short but good 13 Mar 2013
By Hfffoman TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this because I heard it raved about on radio 4. If it was half as good as they said, then everybody should read it. Or was this just radio 4 intellectual snob talk?

I didn't find it quite lived up to the expectations I had been given, but it was good, and since it offers a lot of wisdom in a very short space, I would probably agree that everybody interested in language should read it.

The content is very similar to The Complete Plain Words, which was first published not long after Orwell's essay and has been comprehensively updated more than once. Both books are delightfully written and entertaining although, while Orwell's essay takes about 10 minutes to read, The Complete Plain Words will justify many hours of study. I also recommend Strunk & Write which gives excellent advice on writing style. When I am writing I often remember its comment that a lot of bad writing comes from putting down words before the idea they are supposed to express is quite clear in your mind, or from stringing several ideas together without being sure of the logical relation between them.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An excellent essay in a poor edition 28 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This essay is not perfect. It is certainly true that 'the great enemy of clear language is insincerity', and it is as much of a problem today as it was in the 1940s, perhaps more so. Still, I wonder whether Orwell pushes the point a little too far. 'Political language', he writes at the end, 'is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind'. That is true far more often than it ought to be, but even so, it strikes me as precisely the kind of oversimplification that is the logical conclusion of Orwell's call for clarity. Politics is often complicated, and good political writing (like many other genres) needs to find ways in which to express that complexity. All the same, this is the sort of essay that is worth reading even if you are not entirely convinced by the argument, because you benefit from thinking it through. Four stars, then, for the essay.

Given Orwell's passionate call for writers to use language with care and precision, it is a terrible shame that this publication has been put together so carelessly. Some original text has been digitally scanned in a fairly clumsy fashion that has introduced numerous typo errors into the text. I counted six in twenty short pages from one reading, and there are probably more. The worst is 'turmng-away' [sic] on p. 7. These things happen, and even careful checks cannot eliminate every mistake, but at least six in the course of an essay is too many. In the old days, they would just have printed a facsimile of the original, but I assume that the digital scanning has been done to facilitate the production of the Kindle edition, which I have not seen but probably contains the same errors.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It is definitly worth it.
It is beautiful in its simplicity.
Published 3 days ago by pawelgonzalez
3.0 out of 5 stars Pedantry, in short
Orwell takes pedantry to the nth degree. Pedants will love it, others will tire of it before reaching the end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by marty mcfly
5.0 out of 5 stars Short little Gem
While being very well versed in the books of Orwell, I had not before come across this famous essay which I was only aware of in the form of a few quotes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by James Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, incisive and still relevant
George Orwell's critique of the fall in standards and laziness in the use of the English language is as relevant today as when it was written after the 2nd World War. Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars A must
For anyone trying to understand how and why we are never told the truth in the media, this essay explains it all. You'll feel stupid for not having got hold of it earlier. Read more
Published 2 months ago by I. MAKULOLUWE
5.0 out of 5 stars He still speaks to us across the decades . . .
It is as though he could foresee the continuing deterioration of political thought and debate.

Recommended for all who wish to think and speak with clarity and good... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gillian
5.0 out of 5 stars Handy to have it on Kindle
"The fascist octopus has sung its swansong. The Jackboot has been cast into the melting pot." George Orwell witnessed some of the most appalling writing and this made-up example... Read more
Published 4 months ago by MR D MCMILLAN
5.0 out of 5 stars It's an excellent read
Orwell is talented and his writing his clear and concise. He is a good model of how one should write.
Published 4 months ago by Roy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
An expose of the literary dribble that has become the norm in political writing. Orwell criticizes the over use of meaningless words, and advocates for a more simplistic yet... Read more
Published 5 months ago by ryan bartle
5.0 out of 5 stars For an A level student
I bought this for my son as part of his 'wider reading' for his A level studies. He is very happy with it.
Published 6 months ago by nursekaz
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