Happy Birthday, George Orwell!
Orwell’s withering critiques of totalitarianism have become a cornerstone of modern Western thought. In Animal Farm, Orwell tells the story of a group of farm animals that revolt against human control. These animals begin with lofty ideals and 7 Commandments that slowly disintegrate to the famous phrase: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell himself lived a fascinating life. He was one of the most influential political writers of the 20th Century, famous for such classics as 1984 and his satiric letter “A Modest Proposal.” He traveled widely—born in India, Orwell also worked in Burma, fought in Spain, and wrote as a war correspondent in WWII. Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair, but he chose his pen name for St. George, the patron saint of England, and the River Orwell.
As a writer, Orwell advocated using precise and clear language. In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” he lists six rules for writers:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
So, celebrate George Orwell’s “eleventy-first” birthday and take advantage of this special offer today!
Also, if you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: Animal Farm (affiliate link).
The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 7th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.
Image of Art Brenner’s Animal Farm 1946 jacket design by Karen Horton (cc)