If Orwell lived today


George Orwell wrote the frontline classic of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia, and got shot in the throat for his troubles. The book sold no more than a few hundred copies in his lifetime. He was close to dying before 1984 and Animal Farm brought him any renown.

I like stories like that, "Keep right on to the end of the road" stories that say keep on doing as you're doing, writing as you're writing, and the world at large may one day catch up ... Orwell died when he was a couple of years older than I am now.

Of course Orwell's literary career would have been killed long before his breakthrough in a publishing world that no longer nurses midlist writers. Today's English Sunday papers are lauding Neil La Bute for his new play The Distance from Here - a dreary, violent, mundane piece of crap in which even the sensationalism is stale (though it's acted and staged well).

Orwell was ignored, La Bute praised to the skies - it just goes to show that critical acclaim is not worth a fig. It belongs to a poisoned world. All I know how to do is find my own set of values and seek to hold on to them, maybe share them, through the art of writing.

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