“As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier—even quicker, once you have the habit—to say In my opinion it is a not unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think.”
– Politics And The English Language by George Orwell.
I unearthed this quote from an old draft that was made in March. Back then, I had just read Orwell’s famous rant against the sorry plight of the English language.
I have no idea why I have not done so earlier. I cannot decide if I am glad or sheepish that I have left it so late to read it. Probably a little of both.
The point is, upon finishing it, I thought that I could never write anything again without feeling like I am murdering the English language. The kind of writing that George demanded is uncompromising and rigorous; get straight to the point with the best, most suitable words you can find. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT EVER MINCE YOUR WORDS. Or worse, draw them out unnecessarily.
It is almost fascist, the way he denounced the “gum-together strips of words” that he so abhorred, but I know that this is exactly the kind of ruthlessness that gives birth to the kind of prose that I love the most – simple, strong and above all, clear.
And of course, it is still possible for me to write and not unwittingly kill English. That is just melodramatic nonsense (which I enjoyed at that point in time).